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June 10, 2013
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

Upstate patient receives Joslin Diabetes Center’s first 80-year Medal

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— At 89, Spencer M. Wallace Jr. can tell us a thing or two about how to live an active, involved and productive life. After all, he’s doing just that while successfully managing his diabetes—something this Upstate Joslin Diabetes Center patient has done for the past 82 years.

Joslin Diabetes Center presented Wallace with its first Joslin Medal for living for 80 years with type 1 diabetes. Wallace is now a three-time Joslin Medalist, also holding 50- and 75-year medals. He accepted his award during ceremonies May 11 at Joslin’s Boston headquarters.

Ruth Weinstock M.D., Ph.D., SUNY Distinguished Service Professor and medical director of the Upstate Joslin Diabetes Center, was first introduced to Wallace in the 1980s when they both served on the local board of the American Diabetes Association. She also is his medical provider at the Upstate Joslin Diabetes Center.

“Spencer is certainly a role model for others who live with type 1 diabetes,” said Weinstock. “When he was diagnosed with diabetes, the medications we have today were not available, and it was not possible to test one’s blood sugar levels at home.” Weinstock adds that Wallace presented Upstate’s Joslin Center with his 75-year medal. “It hangs in our waiting room, serving as an inspiration to our patients of all ages,” she said.

So what is Wallace’s formula for his success?

“Stay active, keep your weight down, and exercise,” he says. Putting his words into action, he continues to play golf, his lifelong passion (he is proud that he served as past president of New York Seniors Golf Association), gardens, and enjoys activities with Margaret, his wife of 59 years. During his lifetime, he worked for years in hotel management, served in the United States Coast Guard Reserve “Temporary” and, in addition to golf, he has played football, basketball and baseball most of his life.

He’s also helping clinicians to better understand this chronic disease by participating in research studies, including a Joslin study of 50-year Medalists. The study aims to understand why certain people who have had type 1 diabetes for 50 or more years do not develop the serious complications usually associated with the disease. More recently, he has volunteered to participate in the Type 1 Diabetes Exchange, a project being conducted at the Upstate Joslin Diabetes Center in collaboration with other diabetes centers throughout the country, and which is contributing to increased knowledge that will lead to better approaches for the management of this disease.

Wallace stresses that the formula for his success also includes the love he receives from his family, which also includes his son, Daniel, friends, and especially, the expert care provided by his physicians.

“We are fortunate to have a Joslin Center and doctors familiar with diabetes right here in Central New York,” says Wallace. He especially commends Weinstock, and Robert C. Cupelo, M.D., for the care that they provide him.

“Spencer is a living history regarding the treatment of diabetes,” says Cupelo, who has been Wallace’s primary care physician for the past 28 years. “He exemplifies how meticulous, personal care can result in a good quality of life. It has been my pleasure and a delight to know both Spencer and his wife, Margaret, who has taught me that it is equally important to involve the family in the patient’s treatment plan.”

So, what is next on the agenda for Wallace? “I’m going for the 90-year Medal,” says Wallace, a resident of Fayetteville. “They promised to make one for me.”

Caption: Spencer Wallace and his wife, Margaret. Wallace received Joslin Diabetes Center’s first medal (displayed on table) for courageously living with diabetes for 80 years.

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