For Daniel Webb, type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a bit of a family affair. The Tasmanian was diagnosed with T1D aged six, his younger sister Claire was diagnosed a few years later at 11. Just two months ago, the Webbs were struck a third blow when 26-year-old Emma was diagnosed.
To put a positive spin on things, the three siblings can turn to each other for support, and Daniel having T1D has helped the family identify symptoms in his sisters early.
“A few months ago, Emma, who exercises a lot, was feeling a bit strange during her runs, losing energy. It sounded to me like low blood sugar. I gave her one of my old glucometers so she could test her blood glucose levels now and then.”
This forethought ended up potentially saving his sister’s life.
“She had been feeling really irritable and thirsty for a couple of days. Her partner reminded her about the glucometer and she tested her blood glucose levels…”
The meter showed 28. She washed her hands, and tested again. It was still 28.
Emma, who now lives in Melbourne, headed to hospital where the life-changing news was confirmed. She was able to go home after a few hours, her early diagnosis preventing her from needing to be admitted.
Daniel is welcoming Emma back to Tasmania this month, where she will join him on the remainder of his mission to climb five mountains for type 1 diabetes research. That’s one mountain for every $1,000 he raises, with a target of $5,000 in mind. They’ll be heading to the remote Walls of Jerusalem National Park, which is not accessible by road, to tackle the Twin Spires, the Mountains of Jupiter, Cathedral Mountain, and Mount Ragoona if time allows.
Daniel’s also walked in the Launceston One Walk earlier this month, which was definitely a bit less of a climb!
For years, Daniel has been attending JDRF One Walks, while also completing his own long-distance walks to raise funds for JDRF. So far, he’s covered hundreds of kilometres of Tasmanian coastline. His secret to success is the biscuits he bakes for each person he donates.
“Some people get more excited about the biscuits than the actual challenge I’m doing”, Daniel jokes.
Daniel credits his amazing group of family and friends for getting behind him each year in whatever challenge he’s undertaking. He believes it really makes a difference that he speaks with honesty about the struggles that people with T1D face when he asks for donations on social media.
“If you look through the donations on my page, they aren’t from large corporates or anything. It’s made up of many individual donations.”
“Also, a good friend of mine, Elaine, used to make soy candles and every sale made in November would have a percentage of profits go towards my walks. This year, she has had some tights and t-shirts made and is doing the same thing.”
Daniel says he wouldn’t be doing the fundraising if it was just for his own type 1 diabetes. He supported T1D kids’ camps in Tasmania for many years, and took his inspiration from the amazing people he met.
“If anyone deserves to have their lives made better, it’s them. What they have to deal with everyday makes them great people”
And there’s another reason Daniel wants to make a difference too. “People often don’t notice the struggles that people with diabetes face every day as we don’t look sick. And they don’t understand how bad the feelings are to have high or low blood glucose levels.”
To Daniel, success will be when research can uncover a cure and lessen the impact on the lives of everyone with the disease.
Until then, he won’t be defined by his type 1 diabetes.
“There’s actually a song I like, by Cloud Nothings, which sums it up. The lyrics go, ‘I’m not you. You’re a part of me.’”