Stories of people overcoming their type one Diabetes

Images of type one diabetics achieving their dream. Credits: Sasha Wiltshire

Diabetes affects 4.7 million people in the UK and about 8% are type one according to The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. This condition should never be a setback or prevent you from achieving your goals. There has been lots of negative stereotypes and, questioning on the cause and the ability of people who are type one diabetics.

This life-long chronic illness is caused by your blood sugar levels being too high because your pancreas has stopped producing a hormone called insulin. Although, this is a treatable condition through injections of insulin and, checking and managing your blood sugar levels.

Michael Cox on Mount Kilimanjaro. Credits: Michael Cox

Michael Cox (MindOverMiles) is twenty-four-year-old full-time football coach in Liverpool and, has been diagnosed with type one diabetes since 2014. He is a young leader for Diabetes UK and, has recently climbed up Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for the Charity.

Michael said: “Diabetes was the least of my worries on the mountain, which I felt proud of.”

He spent eight days climbing the mountain and felt a bit cautious at the beginning on how his body would react to the change in altitude, pressure, and the amount of exercise. “I cried at the top. Emotions took over me.”

Michael expressed how his diagnosis turned “the world upside down” so, achieving this while spreading awareness of the condition was the best feeling he ever had. He admits: “I’ve used diabetes to get out a lot of things, I’ve used it as an excuse to stop myself from doing things”.

As some type one diabetics can relate, negative stereotypes from others also comes with the condition. One that stood out to Michael, was when he was told that his diagnosis was from eating the wrong foods. He responds to these stereotypes with “people are entitled to their own opinion”, and “don’t let it bother you.

Just carry on living your best life possible.” Michael’s goal is to be positive about diabetes and getting people to accept it. He wants to promote the message not to “allow the circumstances to define who you are” but “use them as a stepping stone for your personal growth.”

Offgrid Diabetes family with their motor home. Credits: Ambra Baiamonte

Offgrid Diabetes are a family of four, documenting their journey living and travelling with type one diabetes.

The father, Danilo Actis Grosso, is thirty-four and has had the condition since he was eleven years old. Elisa, their first born, is seven and was diagnosed at the age of two.

The family have a passion for travelling and didn’t let diabetes stop them from doing so. Danilo explains how diabetics “can do literally everything, we just have to pay a little more attention to what we do.”.

He adds: “diabetes shouldn’t be the first” problem however, it should be “something to be aware of.”.Danilo explains when travelling, they need to know where the closest hospital is and, ensure they have enough supplies and where to find more.

The family’s main issue in the motor home, is making sure the fridge is working. This is because insulin pens, which are used for daily injections, must be stored in a fridge and then kept at room temperature while in use.

As for supplies, the family get ninety days of prescription from the GP and, as backup, can buy insulin in some countries. Danilo advises other type one diabetics: “to not wait for the right moment because there’s no right moment to do it.”.

He adds: “take the leap and just jump and do things and then you’ll see. A bad experience can still teach you something.”.

Woman with diabetes checking her blood sugar levels. Credits: Diabetes 101

Cheryl Pate has been retired due to her diagnosis of type one diabetes at age 54 last year.

She says: “I’m more physically active now I’ve got type one diabetes than I ever was before and it’s absolutely fine and it’s good for you.”. Cheryl does four to five classes a week at the gym and finds that it is helping her blood sugar levels. She advises that diabetics should be  “planning your exercise” and  “planning your activity.”.

Cheryl adds: “You absolutely need to be moving because it’s not just what you put in your mouth. It’s the physical activity you do that helps your bloods too.”. Cheryl knew about the condition before, as her son Jack Pate was diagnosed ten years earlier.

She believes that she is luckily to have lived without the condition for 54 years. “I just think I can’t let it now, at 54, stop me from doing things. It doesn’t stop me doing anything.”.

Cheryl expresses how diabetes has made her healthier, as she takes more care of her health and thinks more about what she puts into her body. The biggest piece of advice that she can give to type one diabetics, “is that you’ve got to manage your own diabetes, somebody else can’t do it for you.”.

DiabetesUK is a charity that helps gives support to people living with type one and type two diabetes.

Joshua Cook, a type one diabetic who works at DiabetesUK, says: “I’ve seen a lot of things and a lot of progress compared to when I was diagnosed 20 odd years ago.” The charity has a programme called Together Type One, to offer addition support to diabetics so they can achieve their goals. Joshua says how he thinks the good support around him, is what helped him not see the condition as a negative.