All about adapting

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

Kelly Malveaux will play his fourth position with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defence this weekend.

Don't feel bad for him, though, because the guy is a pro when it comes to adapting. And we're not talking only about switching from outside linebacker to weak-side halfback, which he will do for Sunday's game in Montreal against the Alouettes.

No, we're talking about learning you have type 1 diabetes on Sept. 12, 2002, spending a few days in hospital and playing on Sept. 26, 2002.

That is adapting.

Malveaux was in his second season with the Calgary Stampeders in 2002 when he started losing weight -- not that he really noticed. What finally put a scare in him was the September night he drank about a gallon of water and had to go to the bathroom seven or eight times during the night.

He went to Stampeders trainer Pat Clayton the next day and told him his symptoms. A few hours later Malveaux was in hospital, learning soon enough that, at age 26, he had diabetes.

"It was tough because I was away from my family at the time," Malveaux said yesterday. "My wife wasn't there. She was back in California, and her first thought was she wanted to get on an immediate flight to get out there, but the doctors assured us everything was going to be OK.

"I was going to be able to play football once they finally got my (blood glucose) numbers back in place."

No, Malveaux wasn't worried about whether or not he'd be able to live a normal life, how the disease would change his diet or how many needles he would need daily. Everything was OK because he was "going to be able to play football."

HOSPITAL

So that's what he did, about 10 days after being released from the hospital. He hasn't missed a game since.

Malveaux is a cool customer who doesn't let much faze him, so it's no surprise he learned everything he could about the disease, had an insulin pump installed in his abdomen and got on with life.

Aside from missing the one game in September 2002 (his replacement that day was a CFL rookie named Anthony Malbrough, now a Bomber teammate), Malveaux said the disease has not altered his life much.

"When I talked to the dietitian when I was first diagnosed, they said I didn't have to change much about my diet," he said. "But everything that you can't have, that's what you want more.

"... The luxuries that some guys have to just eat sweets all day and every day, I have to be more cognizant and more conscious of that."

Perhaps the greatest impact the diagnosis had on Malveaux was at the spiritual level. He realized life could change on a dime, but he was lucky enough to keep doing what he loved.

"I felt like a new man," he said. "I felt like I had a new opportunity and it was truly a testament to my God's grace and mercy."

Malveaux wears his pump at all times except during practices and games. He usually gives himself a dose of insulin at half-time because adrenalin makes his blood glucose numbers rise.

The only other known CFLer with diabetes is Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive end John Chick, who approached Malveaux last year to tell him they shared a common bond.

Both players have shown that the disease isn't a sentence if you adapt properly. Malveaux likes to share that part of his life story when he speaks to youth and church groups in his spare time.

"I definitely speak on it, not to scare anybody but more so to encourage them, that even with certain medical conditions you can still overcome," he said. "I'm a living witness to that."


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