By Bonnie, on Virta for 1 year and 5 months
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2004. For the next 15 years, I tried everything to manage my condition, but still, my medications kept increasing. In early 2019, my health plan, Concordia Plan Services, told me about a new benefit called Virta, which claimed to do more than just manage type 2 diabetes—they could reverse it! I was thrilled to have a better treatment option, so I signed up immediately and saw results quickly. Within a month, I stopped needing all three diabetes medications that I had been on for years, as my blood sugar returned to healthy ranges. It’s amazing what you can do with food as medicine, and I was so happy with my accomplishments!
One month later, however, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It hit me from out of the blue, and in the midst of all the emotions and fear I felt, I was also panic-stricken that I might have to leave Virta. The results I had seen from Virta in those first 30 days included weight loss and increased energy, and because I no longer needed diabetes medications, I didn’t have to deal with those side effects either. Stopping the Virta treatment meant that I would also be giving up on all that progress, and there was no way I was doing that without a fight.
Even though the cancer was detected early, and therefore treatable, the physical and emotional stress of it caused my blood glucose to go up. Within two months, I was back on two of my diabetes medications, which felt like a major setback.
Thankfully, I had my Virta care team, who had been there from day one, and they assured me that they would stand by me through this difficult time. I didn’t know how my cancer diagnosis would interfere with my diabetes reversal, but my Virta doctor, Dr. Jeff Stanley, told me, “We’re gonna get through this together. You have every reason to believe you will continue to be successful.”
And he was right. Dr. Stanley helped me realize that the progress I made on Virta before my cancer diagnosis prepared my body to better handle the cancer treatments, including one surgical procedure and 16 radiation treatments. Through it all, Virta’s support never wavered, and I was able to stay the course with the help of Dr. Stanley and Kelly, my Virta health coach.
Kelly, in particular, has been endlessly supportive. She continues to support me in all ways, beyond just my health; I think of her as my life coach. She motivates me when I need it, directing me to resources of all kinds, even outside of Virta. She introduced me to motivational researcher Brene Brown, whose philosophy on vulnerability helped me process my cancer diagnosis.
There were certainly challenges along the way, like how the radiation caused me to lose my appetite. Through it all, Virta gave me a way to continue my diabetes reversal journey in the face of cancer. I learned the skills necessary to persevere through setbacks. Thankfully, my cancer is in remission now, but some days are still more difficult than others. One day, I may feel fabulous, but then hit a lull the next. Having an attentive care team and support from the extended Virta patient community makes all the difference! The uplifting comments and resources on the community group in the app have kept me going during hard days.
Over the course of my journey with Virta, I’ve learned that healthy living isn't linear. Life comes with ups and down, achievements and hardships, and there is little anyone can do about it except to decide how to respond. I choose to stay with Virta because they stayed by my side through some particularly hard times. In doing so, they showed me just how much strength I have within. As I begin my second year with Virta, I am more confident than ever that this is my long-term strategy, not just for diabetes reversal, but for living in the healthiest way I can.