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Running to support Diabetes UK - Grace's story

Image of Grace with a medal for a half marathon

Grace Hand

"You’re not going to let this condition control you; you’re going to control it."

Meet Grace, 21, from Ballykelly, Northern Ireland. Grace was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 8.


"I remember that week of being diagnosed so vividly, being young and naive, spending everyday in a hospital bed, and having no idea how much my life was going to change forever. The nurses were calling out random numbers, I had numerous blood tests and my fair share of ketones.

"I am so fortunate to have an unbelievably supportive family unit around me, who came up with our little motto: ‘you’re not going to let this condition control you; you’re going to control it’. I went through school as a very active kid who felt ‘normal’. I threw myself headfirst into everything without thinking twice about whether I was ‘able to do it’ because of my diabetes."


Grace moved to Glasgow to attend university: "Unfortunately, it’s not always been easy. I learnt very quickly that I was going to struggle after moving away to study. I didn’t drink much alcohol because I was anxious about how it was going to affect my blood glucose levels, and I was worried about being a burden to my new friends. I found myself feeling out of place and very low a lot of the time. This led to me losing control of my condition and becoming very neglectful of both my physical and mental health. This is something I wasn’t prepared for, and I didn’t see coming."

London Marathon 

That hasn’t stopped Grace; in fact, it has spurred her on to achieve great things! "In April 2022, I was offered a place in the London Marathon. Upon receiving the email, despite it being on my lifelong bucket list, my first thought was ‘you can’t do that’, I then thought ‘let’s prove this to yourself’. Day by day, I regained control of my condition, I got the mental health help that I needed, and I found myself again – the bold teenager who threw herself headfirst into any challenge and didn’t let anyone’s negativity stand in the way!

"On 2nd October 2022, I ran 26.2 miles around London! That, in itself, is an achievement only 1% of the population can claim, but blood sugar control on top of that, go me! I’ve never been so proud of myself; it was a day that changed my life forever."

What's next

Grace is running the Edinburgh marathon in May to support Diabetes UK. Good luck Grace, we know you’ll smash it!

“For anyone struggling with any aspect of their diabetes right now, I wouldn’t say the answer for everyone is to run a marathon! But challenge yourself, take accountability and prove to yourself that you can turn things around. Set goals and targets for yourself, and then smash them!”

Grace's JustGiving page

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