Where did Broken Pancreas come from?

Who: You or anyone you know with diabetes.

What: A project photographing people with diabetes, ­doing…everything they do. If you’ve been told you can’t but you still do—perfect.

The outcome: In the short term: A blog. A book. A gallery. A website (looking for web design donations).
In the long term: A non-profit organization to help diabetics live better lives.  The sky’s the limit.

Where: Everywhere. The places you work, play, socialize, etc. Over the summer I traveled the country photographing people with diabetes.

When: Broken Pancreas starts now and will remain an ongoing project. While I am putting the eBook together I will continue photographing (and looking for a publisher).

Why: (and a bit about me)
I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes two days before Thanksgiving in 1988, when I was in third grade. I was the only person in my school who had it.
Most people’s reaction was, “Oh, so you cant do _______.” Fill in the blank with anything and everything. 22 years later, I am still surprised when someone says “Are you sure you should have salt on your fries?” or “You can’t have that!”
This project was created to show everyone who doubts it that people with diabetes can do anything and everything someone without diabetes can.
When I was diagnosed and was still in the hospital, my new endocrinologist, Dr. Starkman, said “Ken, you can do anything you want in your life except skydive or scuba dive.” My eight-year-old brain could not figure out why diabetes would stop me from doing those things. He continued with, “Those are the two things I wouldn’t do, so I don’t recommend them to anyone else.” Since then I have been both skydiving and scuba diving. When people tell me something completely ridiculous about diabetes I try to educate them a little. The inevitable question always comes up, “So what is diabetes?” I explain, like I did in third grade, “Well, I have a Broken Pancreas. Let me clarify: just part of it doesn’t work. It doesn’t regulate the glucose levels in my blood, so I have to intervene with the help of Insulin.”
It is time to change misconceptions and educate the world about what having diabetes means—and what it doesn’t.

How? Contact Ken Kotch


16 responses

19 03 2010

I love your story.. How inspirational.. Also, I think it’s awesome that you experienced both sky diving and scuba diving. I love your page and think it’s wonderful you’re spreading the word on Diabetes. I hope we are able to find a cure!!
Best of Luck.

20 03 2010

Thank you Hayley,
If you haven’t yet, you should go sky/ scuba diving!
Until we find a cure, let’s at least set the record straight.

28 04 2010
danielle steffener

you should really look into what diabetics in the raw food world are doing!we weer told we would have to take insulin for the rest of our lives theres people who have challenged that and proved them wrong!dr.doug graham is another one to check out he has a web site vegsource.com you shoud get pictures of raw food diabetics and the abundance of fruit they can eat in a day! and see how active and accomplished their lives are!

7 06 2010

I have diabetes and I got a really sweet tooth. Come and visit my blog to see what diabetics CAN do 🙂

11 06 2010

Love the concept.
I was diagnosed at 5, and either wasn’t ever told I couldn’t do anything, or didn’t listen.
I have not been skydiving or scuba diving, I would love to skydive if I ever got the chance, but scuba doesn’t appeal. I don’t even like snorkelling much. Too claustrophobic.
I’m now 37 and wishing I had more time to play. I work full time as a retrieval doctor in Australia.

18 06 2010
Corwin Watkins

Love the concept.I was diagnosed at 5, and either wasn’t ever told I couldn’t do anything, or didn’t listen.I have not been skydiving or scuba diving, I would love to skydive if I ever got the chance, but scuba doesn’t appeal. I don’t even like snorkelling much. Too claustrophobic.I’m now 37 and wishing I had more time to play. I work full time as a retrieval doctor in Australia.

3 07 2010
Bernard Farrell

Type 1 for 37+ years, I went skydiving about 4 years ago. What a blast. Really there are no limits for folks with diabetes. Best of luck with your project, I can’t wait to see the results.

15 07 2010
Beth McGill

What a great concept.My 17 daughter is Type 1(diagnosed at age 9) and her diabetes definitely does not define her. She is a student,cheerleader,camp counselor,friend,and so much more. You may have the chance to meet her as I hear you will be visiting Camp Possibilities soon. You will truly enjoy meeting all of the wonderful people there.Good luck with your Broken Pancreas Project!
Beth McGill-Type 3 (anyone who knows and loves a Type 1:)

15 07 2010

Type 3. I love it!

20 08 2010
Joan Malloy

What a great blog site. Nice to read of other long time diabetics. Good luck in visiting all states Ken. If your ever in Vermont stop by. I was diagnosed at 9 and 54 years later I am still going! Maybe not as fast but I get there eventually. I started on Omnipod insulin pump 1 year ago next month. Doing better-not so many lows. Hang in there-not sure I want to sky dive-afraid of heights-and with pump can only go to depth of 8 feet. I do like hiking as much as I can and photography is great!! Love taking pics of waterfalls, sunsets and rises, my animals and whatever else comes my way. Take care and keep up the good work!!!

20 08 2010

Thanks Joan, I would love to come to VT to photograph you. The next few weeks are crazy, but lets talk in late September!

1 09 2010
Kenwin Cummings

Hey Ken,

I really love this project! I was diagnosed when I was 13 and the first doctor I ever saw told me I should not play football anymore. I absolutely love the game! Now I am 24 years old and going on my 3rd year in the NFL. Who said I couldn’t play football with my Broken Pancreas?!

3 09 2010

Kenwin, you are an inspiration. Thank you.

7 09 2010

Hi Ken,
I just found your site and wanted to tell how lovely your photos are. My son, Addison, is 3.5 and was diagnosed with type 1 at 15 months of age. I have been trying to take a photo every day of my life (and his) with diabetes. I am doing a 365 project but have a feeling I won’t want to stop after a year. If you are ever in Seattle and want a photo subject, let us know. I am looking forward to following you and seeing your work.
Take Care,

25 11 2010

I love your blog!! What a great idea and an AWESOME project! I was always told by people that I may not be able to have children. I didn’t question it and I kinda just forgot about it. Well today I have one son, we call him “Q” (Quenten) and another on the way! I have been a type I for 10 years now and everyday it is a struggle but it’s awesome to read a blog like this. So inspirational! Thank you!

26 02 2011
czyszczenie mogił

Hello! thank you for the superb blog. keep the best!

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