People to Know 2018: Will Cross
When he reached the summit in 2006, Will Cross became the first American with diabetes to climb Mount Everest. This was only one of a series of accomplishments. In addition to climbing the highest peak on every continent, Will has journeyed to both the North and South Poles. He braved a three-month trek through Patagonia as a teenager. And he’s driven across the Sahara Desert. (Yes, really.)
I became the first Canadian with diabetes to reach the summit of Everest in 2008. I had a million questions as I prepared for my climb, so I volunteered at an event with the express purpose of meeting Will. We became fast friends and now share an understanding of the diabetes-related challenges that come with icy temperatures and extreme altitudes.
We know, for instance, that highs and lows can feel very similar to altitude sickness and that it’s important to learn the difference. We know to carry more supplies than we’ll need.
“I’ve been on trips where the donkeys carrying the load fell off the cliff and we lost a week’s worth of food,” Will says. “So I carry extra insulin and food with me all the time.”
And we both know what it’s like to stand at the highest spot on Earth.
“There were tears in my eyes,” Will says. But he also felt a sense of horror. “I’m halfway through the day and I am exhausted. I still have to get down and there’s limited oxygen, insulin, food.”
So you persevere. Between expeditions, Will works as a motivational speaker with Tandem Diabetes Care, and perseverance is a core message.
“Everyone’s struggling with something,” he says. “Ironically, diabetes has become the method by which I have gone on these expeditions. It’s how I raised the money, it’s how I’ve earned a living, and it’s how I’ve worked with children with diabetes to teach them their life is not over.”
Sébastien Sasseville, an adventurer and marathon runner, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 22. In 2014, he tackled a nine-month, 4,660-mile run (the equivalent of more than 175 marathons) across Canada to inspire, educate, and empower those living with type 1 diabetes. As a motivational speaker, he delivers the same message of perseverance.