Journey with diabetes

Here we share stories from people reflecting on their journey with diabetes so far. Whether you have the condition, or know someone that has, these open accounts of coming to terms with diabetes may help you find new ways to cope.

Connor on a walk

Managing diabetes

Connor has learnt to manage his diabetes really well and has great support surrounding him. In some cases, his friends are more understanding than some adults. They all learnt about Connor’s condition from Connor himself. They look after him, they know when to grab an adult for help, and they don’t even bat an eyelid when Connor has to stop and finger prick or eat a snack in class if needed.  

"My advice for any parents of children living with diabetes is that it does get easier, it becomes your normal – education and awareness play a big part in that and are key. Celebrate the good days when they come around, and don't be afraid to try new things!"

Read 's complete story
Image of Claire and her family

Preparing for type 1 diabetes 

In our case we were very lucky to have the knowledge and support around us to prepare well for our son’s diagnosis at the time. Family experience and my own mother who is a retired Diabetes Specialist Nurse was a fantastic help. She helps a lot with Enda’s care and is a massive support, especially when I am at work. I know if our results indicate Aodhan or Cillian’s are at risk of type 1 diabetes, we have a great support network to help us.

As part of the ELSA study, parents or carers will receive information and resources should they receive a positive result – this will be a brilliant support to help them prepare for everything a type 1 diabetes diagnosis can involve.

We can strive to make things better

Image of Enda playing football

My advice to any parents or carers out there is to absolutely take part in the ELSA study and know that, should they have a positive result, it will not hold their child(ren) back. 

I have always lived a healthy life with my diabetes and always encouraged to never let it stop me. I have maintained strong attendance at school and work and have always participated in team sports and tried to maintain that normal lifestyle.

Keep your young ones involved in anything they want to do and don’t be afraid. Enda is playing Gaelic, soccer, and takes part in swimming. He also has an assistant in school who supports his care at sporting events and trips. Enda never lets diabetes hold him back and I encourage him to say yes to absolutely everything. Diabetes just has to fit into our life!

"My goal as a mum of a child with type 1 diabetes is to educate Enda as much as possible so that he will be able to independently manage his diabetes. As I said, education is empowerment. Enda is already learning so much from identifying his own hypo/hyper signs, treating these, and knowing how to do his own finger pricks, pump changes and carb counting. Children really do surprise you with how much they can take on board and also how responsible they can be."

I do have concerns around the lack of funds in Northern Ireland to support adult type 1 diabetes patients to access advanced CGM devices and how this may impact Enda in the future. I hope to see a time in the near future where this type of technology is available to all.

I think one of the most important takeaways is to understand that with diabetes, not every day or week will be the same. We can’t make things perfect all the time and we do face some challenges now and in the future, but involvement in studies like ELSA shows me that we really can strive to make things better.

Find out how your child can take part in the ELSA study

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In this image, SALLY is pictured posing towards camera. The picture is framed from head to just below their shoulders. They are a drag artist, with bright blonde hair down to their shoulders. They are wearing pale blue crinkled gloves up to their biceps, with a matching head piece. They are also wearing a jewel necklace, with 6 rows of different jewels. They have hoop gold earrings that read 'babygirl' inside.


Managing diabetes and Drag

Now 26, SALLY not only manages diabetes but a full-time job as an animator, and a career as a Drag artist, performing regularly across the UK and closer to home in the North East.

They added: “I’m in a much better place now, but it can still be difficult. Managing blood sugar levels, hypos and hypers on a demanding schedule isn’t always easy but I have a good support network around me.

“Some weeks can be hectic; I can be working 9-5 and performing several nights a week until 2 or 3 in the morning.  Friends and colleagues know I have type 1 and what to look out for if I need to treat a hypo or hyper. I’m grateful for that support system.”

They added: “I wish I’d had access to some more specialized support growing up, but I’ve come a long way on my diabetes journey. I’ve learned to accept who I am and my diabetes.” 

Diabetes UK’s youth programme offers peer support, information and guidance for young people aged 11-25, living with type 1 diabetes.

Read SALLY's complete story
Georgia Weston

Medical training

I started medical school over five years ago and am due to qualify in 2024. After leaving school I completed a BTEC in equine studies before working as a carer. It was during this that I found a love of healthcare but started to struggle with the limitations of my job, wishing that I could do more to help people. Aged 21, I joined an access to medicine course, and that is how my medical career began. 

One of the interesting things I’ve experienced since my diagnosis is that diabetes and particularly type 1 diabetes seems very poorly understood by the general population. It’s not simply a case of ‘type 1 diabetes is just insulin and type 2 is lifestyle’.  

There’s so much variation between people, and so many complications, it’s a disease which is different for everyone and that makes it so much more difficult for people to understand. 

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A photo of Joanne standing on a stone bridge by a river, smiling to camera

JoanneFound out she was at increased risk of type 2 diabetes after completing the Know Your Risk tool.

My family experience with diabetes

Diabetes is prevalent in our family – my sister has type 1, as did my grandfather, and my father was diagnosed with type 2 not long before he died when I was 16. It had become commonplace though because it’s been in the background of our lives for so long. I hadn’t seriously thought about my risk of developing type 2.  

My daughter works for Diabetes UK and often shares news stories and research about diabetes with me. I decided to fill in the Know Your Risk tool when I heard about Diabetes UK and Tesco’s big campaign to help more people find out their risk of getting type 2 diabetes. I thought it might just be an interesting thing to do because of our family history. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to find out that I was at risk. 

The Know Your Risk tool said I was at moderate risk, which I found quite shocking. It shouldn’t have been because I know I’m overweight and have a family history, but nevertheless, it was a bit of a wake-up call. 

Read Joanne's complete story
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