For three decades, Deb tried her best to avoid type 1 diabetes. But that all changed two years ago, while running with a friend who also had type 1 diabetes (T1D). He mentioned his insulin pump and how much it had improved his life.
Not having much of an idea of how insulin pump therapy worked, Deb made some enquiries. A few weeks later, she was pumping. The rest was history.
Deb’s life has changed dramatically since then. “It’s as close as I’ve felt in 30 years to being normal”. This new lease on life inspired her to become involved with the type 1 community for the first time ever.
Flash forward two years, and Deb is organising her second JDRF One Walk, running fitness events and speaking at Gala Balls about her story to raise awareness. It’s a far cry from her days as a newly-diagnosed ten year old, her family crowded into her hospital room, Deb thinking, “All I want to do is go and play outside!”
The diagnosis was a shellshock for all, with no prior family history of T1D. “They were all in the dark about what to do, it was a very confusing time”, says Deb. “There was very little information given to me and my family.” She distinctly remembers a nurse saying “Just inject once a day”, while her blood sugar monitor was the size of a brick!
Nowadays, Deb sometimes worries that her 10 year old son may show signs of T1D. Lachlan is extremely supportive of his mum, and even has his own emergency hypo kit that he has handy for her. Deb recalls a time, last year, when she couldn’t work out why her testing kit kept disappearing. Lachlan was taking it twice a day to test his own sugars!
In mid-2015, Deb stumbled upon the JDRF One Walk website by complete accident. She noticed that there was no option for a Hobart walk, and put in a call to her local JDRF office.
“I put the phone down, and said to my partner, ‘Brendon, we are going to organise the Hobart One Walk’”, setting the date for a mere two days after a 250km run from Hobart to Launceston, raising awareness and promoting positive outcomes for those living with T1D.
“It was also my way of showing just what an average mum with type one could achieve with the help of insulin pump therapy and continuous glucose monitoring.”
Deb had a ball organising the Walk, so she’s doing it all again this year. The weather was lovely, and more than 250 people turned out to enjoy the day. Having spent 30 years with no one to relate to, she relished being able to meet so many people in the same boat.
“It’s a community of people that just “gets” each other”, said Deb. “Many people from last year have all become good friends since meeting at the Walk”. On a personal front, she has discovered new ways to live her life as healthy as possible, since connecting with others who have T1D.
Deb finds it really interesting to meet the parents of kids with T1D, as she has the reverse situation in that her son and partner live with her T1D, and are the caregivers when needed. “Which isn’t that often since starting on the pump,” adds Deb.
The catering company on the day kindly donated all profits, and there were heaps of craft stalls, sponsor stalls, raffles, prizes and roving entertainment.
“Lachlan and his friend Ollie had a ‘roving magic show’, which collected $100 in donations, and, yes, they will make an appearance this year too!”
Deb organised the Walk all on her own, but credits Brendon for his “running around” on the day and in the lead up.
“In life, it’s easy to become rather selfish”, says Deb. “Giving back, by organising the Walk is something that is really important to me. I find a sense of purpose through helping others.”
Inspired by Deb?
Check out your local JDRF One Walk at walk.jdrf.org.au and help us walk to turn type one into type none.