Despite being told by his doctor he couldn't do certain things, Matt has achieved his goals and puts it down to good control and a positive frame of mind.
In 2000, at the age of 13, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Initially, I was devastated, as one would expect, for all the obvious reasons. I had always been an active and healthy young bloke, with dreams of one day becoming a pilot.
Shortly after being diagnosed I was sat down with one of my doctors who proceeded to read out a list of careers/jobs that he said categorically there was no way of me ever being able to do.
In a time when things are hard enough, coping with a possibly life changing illness, getting used to needles, blood sugar testing etc, the last thing a young person in this situation needs is for someone to reel off a list of things 'you can’t do!’
Matt believes diabetes should not stand in your way of your goals.
I am now 27, and in the time since being diagnosed I have proven to myself, and I hope others, that diabetes does not need to restrict one’s life, goals and ambitions.
In fact I believe quite the opposite, I reckon it can actually enhance ones life! If only I had known this when I was first diagnosed!
Sat there in the hospital bed with a million questions and worries buzzing through my head, if someone had given me a list of the things that I would one day be able to do, my outlook on the situation would have been a whole lot brighter.
So forget about what people might tell you you can't do, here's what you CAN do!
I am now 27, and in the time since being diagnosed I have proven to myself, and I hope others, that diabetes does not need to restrict one’s life, goals and ambitions, in fact I believe quite the opposite, I reckon it can actually enhance one's life!
I finished school in 2005 and I went on to study Geology at Plymouth University. I chose to study here as it was near to the good surf spots in Cornwall! University was great, surfing lots, partying often and of course studying (occasionally).
All the while with the intention of graduating and one day moving to Western Australia to surf and working in the outback as an exploration geologist.
I succeeded, even though again I was told by a doctor ‘no it’s not possible to work in remote areas with diabetes’, I hadn't just spent four years studying and racked up thousands of pounds worth of debt to be told 'No'. I went on to work for a variety of mining companies, initially exploring for gold and later Iron Ore, all of
which took place thousands of kilometres away from the capital, Perth, in the hot and dusty west Australian outback.
The work was intense, 12 hour shifts in temperatures reaching 50C can sometimes be tough, but it was fantastic (pictured, right). In my time off I travelled extensively, mainly with the aim of surfing as many good waves as possible! In 2010 I took six months off to explore Indonesia and its numerous tropical islands, in hope of discovering potentially perfect surf.
One of the highlights of this particular adventure included camping under a tarpaulin for 5 weeks on a remote beach on the south coast of Java, with nothing but my mates and uncrowded perfect waves, for me, this was paradise!
I remember thinking one night, whilst laying under the tarpaulin (pictured, left), how lucky I was. Okay I have diabetes, but look at me, I'm here, Im alive and Im having the time of my life.
Nothing is impossible and with a bit of extra planning diabetes needn't be a limiting factor! As well as surfing, I skydive regularly and in 2014 I commenced on another adventure, BASE Jumping. BASE, an acronym for Building, Antenna, Span (Bridge) and Earth (Cliff) involves jumping from these objects and using a parachute to land.
Over the last year I have travelled to numerous countries to participate in this wonderful sport.
With cliffs exceeding 3000ft, Norway proved to be incredible, hiking up mountains and flying back down with your friends is an experience I never dreamt id be able to achieve, but I have!
I may not have been able to become a pilot in the sense of flying an aircraft, but these days through skydiving and base jumping I am a lot closer to flying than I could have ever imagined, one door closes, another opens!Without trying to sound like your doctor I would like to emphasise on one point.
These adventures, whether it be working as an exploration geologist in the Australian outback or BASE jumping from huge cliffs in Norway (pictured, left), have been made possible through planning accordingly and controlling my diabetes to the best of my ability.
I don't want diabetes to ever restrict me in what I do, whether that be today, tomorrow or 20 years down the line, and I believe the best way to achieve this goal is through good control and adequate planning.
Make people aware of your diabetes, i.e. your friends and colleagues, have a back up plan if you loose your insulin, have access to food, think how you will keep your insulin chilled etc.
Yes, this can sometimes be a bit tedious, but keeping good control and planning accordingly will make the difference between you achieving your goals successfully or not.
After spending five years working in West Aus as a geologist, I am now back in the UK and studying a masters in Petroleum Geoscience. Who knows what the future has in store, but one thing I can be certain of is that diabetes will not hold me back from achieving my dreams!
Life goes on after being diagnosed with diabetes, and no matter what some people might tell you, you can achieve your goals and live an active and fulfilling life, remember this is what you can do.
Keeping good control and planning accordingly will make the difference between you achieving your goals successfully or not.