Thirty-two years ago, the Flame of Hope at London’s Banting House was lit for the first time as a beacon to those living with diabetes that a cure is only a matter of time. It was kindled by The Honourable Judge John M. Seneshen, the driving force behind the flame’s creation.
Among those who find comfort in that eternal flame is Bob Seneshen – the late judge’s son and motivation. In 2015, Bob was among those receiving the St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Diabetes Half Century Award having lived well with diabetes for 50 years. Each receives a print of London’s Banting House and a special medal to commemorate their achievement. The features the Banting House Flame of Hope. It’s most fitting that Bob would become a recipient.
“My dad would be absolutely pleased, but then he would say we still need to work toward a cure,” says Bob.
Diagnosed at age 13, Bob never thought he would live past 30. No one actually told him that but as a voracious reader he did his own research and assumed he would not live a long life. When a friend with diabetes died at age 19, it added credence to Bob’s ominous theory. But it didn’t stop him. He was a downhill skier, a scout, lifeguard, took up martial arts in adulthood and has his black belt.
“My parents were very supportive. I never heard ‘you can’t do that’. They were concerned and caring but made a conscious decision to let me live a normal life.”
The only barrier Bob experienced was the police service, which, at the time, didn’t allow people with diabetes to enter the force. Bob’s eyesight also met a failing grade.
“I wanted to become a police officer. My father and grandfather were police officers. It was a disappointment but not a huge thing. That’s the way it was.”
He became a businessman and later a Justice of the Peace, following, after all, in the footsteps of Judge Seneshen, who was passionate about developing Banting House as a museum. Bob jokes that Banting House and the flame “was all about me.”
While he wishes a cure was closer for the next generation of those with diabetes, Bob is pleased with his success at living with the condition. He thanks his parents, physicians and wife Linda – “you have to be patient to be the wife of a diabetic” – for helping him do so.