An East London pensioner has received a medal for living with diabetes for 50 years. June Showell, now aged 77, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 27 when she was young mother in London.
People with Type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin. No one knows exactly what causes it, but it’s not to do with being overweight and it isn’t currently preventable. Type 1 diabetes is treated by daily insulin doses - taken either by injections or via an insulin pump.
Once she was diagnosed, June then struggled to get on top of her diabetes as she has a needle-phobia.
June, who lives in East Ham and has a grown-up son, Colin, said: “I couldn’t bear the idea of needles. I was sent to see a doctor and then a psychiatrist and all the time I was becoming more and more poorly.
"In the end, I just had to force myself. I discovered that I could inject myself but I couldn’t let anyone else inject me and that’s the way it has been ever since. I still give myself daily injections.”
Despite her difficulties, June who is a widow, worked all her life in local factories in and shops in a variety of roles including glove-making, engineering and working for 22 years at the local Mothercare shop. She has never had a day off sick.
The Alan Nabarro medal is awarded to people who have lived with diabetes for 50 years. Alan Nabarro waged a lifelong battle against discrimination against people with diabetes. In 1968 he was awarded the OBE for his work with young people in London.
June added: “This is the first medal I have won! I took it in to show my wonderful GP and she then showed everyone in the surgery. I was so pleased.”
Roz Rosenblatt, London Head at Diabetes UK, said: “It’s wonderful to hear June’s story and about how she overcame a needle phobia and other problems to make the most of her life and manage her condition. She is an inspiration to others.
“Diabetes is a serious and complex condition.People with diabetes can develop complications and, while careful management will make such complications less likely or less severe, it won't eliminate them altogether. Diabetes can lead to devastating complications such as blindness, amputation and stroke.
“Too many people suffer these complications unnecessarily. With the right care throughout their lives people like June have managed the condition well and reduced their risk of developing complications.”