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Shelby's story: Making changes through volunteering

Our volunteer, Shelby

Shelby Sangha

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged 16

Times are changing and more people, including the younger generation, are online and active on social media. Personally, I’d love to see more communities get together and spread awareness far and wide. 

Shelby has ridden the ups and downs of the type 1 diabetes rollercoaster and found joy in sharing her experiences through volunteering.

Diagnosis

Being diagnosed

I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged 16. I remember going to the diabetic centre and coming home with insulin needles, insulin pens, a blood sugar meter with loads of colourful lancets, and a book to read. The best way to describe it was like my whole life had just been turned upside down. 

Living with diabetes has honestly been a rollercoaster of emotions. Some days I almost live a normal life with a few adjustments here and there, whereas some days I just want to scream and shout and give up. I think everyone has their good and bad days, but when I think of it, if I stop giving myself my insulin injections I could end up in DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) which can be life threatening. I think I speak on behalf of most diabetics when I say we take one day at a time.

Volunteering

Working with Diabetes UK

After I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I was feeling very low. I joined some type 1 support groups on Facebook and taking this step made me feel better. I didn’t know anyone who had type 1 around me, and as much as I have such supportive family and friends, they don't fully understand the day to day struggles I deal with.

Across various online groups, people all over the country were posting things about different support networks. It was then that I decided to search “diabetes support groups” and that’s when I stumbled across Diabetes UK. I became a member and supported the charity - particularly as their mission was a cause that had become very close to my heart for almost a year.

Around that time, I was having a conversation with someone, and they couldn't understand the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes and the difference in symptoms and how people live their lives. I felt like some of my nearest and dearest didn't fully understand it either, so I wanted to find the correct resources and facts to give them the information to help support me further. 

Volunteering and Making a Difference

Because of the pandemic, my volunteering has been limited over the past couple of years, but I’ve got a lot of plans going forward in spreading awareness of diabetes. I’d like my future volunteering to consist of talks and being able to share my story and experiences of how I felt. I don’t ever want anyone feeling the way I did when I was first diagnosed. I want to help families support each other. It must be terrifying when someone is diagnosed even younger than I was, and I want to be part of a support network in helping others. 

One particular change I’ve been making is whenever I’m asked about my diabetes, I ensure I know facts and explain to others exactly what to look out for when it comes to diabetes. I think the one thing I’m most proud of is never giving up. Some days it’s really hard, but I have to remember that my diabetes is going nowhere. It’s with me for life, so I just have to embrace it. I'm proud of myself for coming up against the challenges I face day-in and day-out. 

Looking towards the future

My vision for volunteering is changing the way people see and know about diabetes.

I think in the future I'd like to see more social and interactive support networks available for people to use. Times are changing and more people, including the younger generation, are online and active on social media. Personally, I’d love to see more communities get together and spread awareness far and wide. 

Feeling part of such a huge and diverse charity is so rewarding, especially helping someone by giving them advice to help themselves. I wouldn't ever look back now. Being a diabetic myself, I know that diabetes will always be a huge part of my life. As a volunteer, learning new things every day to help myself is only a positive. 

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