Charlie Cherry: Inspiring People With Diabetes Through His Podcast

This is an article I wrote for Propeller, the Student Portal at the college where I work (Full Sail), about Charlie Cherry (one of our members) who also graduated from Full Sail.

From Student Life to Being Diagnosed
Charlie Cherry graduated from Full Sail in 1993 at age 52. When he started the Recording Arts
, he was already an established professional, the owner of a
recording studio in Las Vegas. However, with the onset of the digital
age, he realized he needed to go back to school to learn how to use all
the new, emerging gear.

After graduating, Charlie went back to
his full-time job as CEO of EarthCast Studio, in Las Vegas. Then in
2000, Charlie was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Although at least
four consecutive generations in his family had been affected by it, and
he had had signs of the disease over the years, he had been in a state
of denial, ignoring the symptoms.
As a result, he ended up in the ER with extremely high blood sugars
(normal blood sugars should be around 100 – his were hovering between
300 and 400).

“I was fortunate that I had no permanent damage as a result of my denial,” said Cherry. Still, for many years he experienced neuropathy
in his feet: “It was like walking on glass, as if someone were jamming
an ice pick on the bottom of my feet.” Getting diagnosed was only the
start: he now needed to get his blood sugars in control.

Diabetes 101
People with diabetes typically have one of two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 diabetes
basically means your pancreas stops producing insulin, which you need
to extract energy from carbohydrates to feed the cells in your body;
therefore you need to get insulin shots or wear an insulin pump as part
of your treatment.

Type 2 diabetes
(the most prevalent type and the one Charlie has) means your pancreas
still produces insulin (or used to up to a certain point), but your
body has became "insulin resistant,"
meaning the insulin is not able to do its job properly. It needs to be
helped through medication, diet and exercise. In some cases, type 2
patients (like Charlie) end up taking insulin shots too.

being diagnosed, Charlie’s blood sugars were still erratic for a while.
“It would affect my ability to get my work done and meet deadlines,” he
said. “I still treated diabetes as though it was an inconvenience I had
to think of once in a while.” The truth is, when your blood sugars are
not in control, your emotions follow suit, affecting your life at work
and at home.

Diabetes PowerShow: The Door to Change
little over a year ago, Charlie’s colleagues took it upon themselves to
help him get his diabetes under control. They talked him into checking
his weight and blood sugars in public, and eventually came up with the Diabetes PowerShow, a podcast dedicated to the diabetes community.

Over a year after launching the show, he and his team have touched the lives of many people with diabetes around the world. His own life has also been deeply affected.

numbers now are hard to tell from those of a person without diabetes,"
he said. "And the pain: It’s as if somebody turned the volume down on

Diabetes and the Entertainment Business
How does
he balance the demands of life as a CEO, the fast pace of running a
recording studio, and the requirements imposed by diabetes management?

is a work in progress,” he admitted. "The best thing you can do for
yourself, your business, your colleagues and your life, if you have
diabetes, is to keep your blood sugars in control."

Since he has
accomplished this, he considers himself a much better businessman, a
better engineer and artist, and he more efficient at his job overall.

He closed by inviting us to celebrate with a few very inspiring lines:

“Live life!
Don’t have any regrets.
Get your numbers under control.
Have balance in your life.
Don’t forget you have a family.
Then thank your lucky stars!”