Savefor later Page saved! You can go back to this later in your Diabetes and Me Close

Type 2 diabetes in young adults – Hannah’s story

Hannah, a Caucasian lady with red hair and glasses, smiling towards camera

Hannah Berry

Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at 26

“I’ve learnt that moving forward is often about taking baby steps, cutting down on sugar in small steps, setting up reminders so I don’t forget to take my medication. All these things add up.”

Diagnosed at 26 with type 2 diabetes and misdiagnosed almost a year later with type 1, it took another two years for Hannah’s type 2 diagnosis to be confirmed. Now 29, Hannah wants to make others aware of type 2 diabetes in young adults and remind people diagnosed in their 20s like her that they're not alone.

We’ve partnered with Tesco to help one million people find out their risk of type 2 diabetes. Learn more about your risk today.


It took two years to get the correct diagnosis

Hannah had exhaustion and excessive thirst, but dismissed these symptoms and only booked a GP appointment because she wanted advice on losing weight. She has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can make it harder to maintain a healthy BMI.

“I was so tired and drinking a lot more, but I just kept putting it down to Covid or smoking or a cold. I’m not very good at paying attention to my body,” Hannah said.

At the doctor’s she had an HbA1c test, which looks at average blood sugar levels over the last three months. She was told that her HbA1c levels were raised enough to diagnose her with type 2 diabetes. She was sent on a healthy eating course run by her GP surgery, but was offered no further advice or medication. She found the course unhelpful, didn’t lose any weight and was still tired and thirsty. As a young mum to a two-year-old, juggling motherhood with working as a microbiologist, she also felt very alone.

Desperate to feel better, Hannah booked an appointment to see a different GP who, after a second blood test, referred her to an endocrinologist. She was then misdiagnosed with type 1 diabetes and put on insulin for the next two years. During this period Hannah felt extremely low.

“My GP and my hospital consultant were bombarding me with conflicting information. I felt lost, and, in the end, I stopped injecting the insulin.”

Finally, she was offered a C-peptide test, which looks at how much insulin the body is making on its own. The test found that her body was still making plenty of insulin, so her first diagnosis was correct. She had type 2 diabetes, not type 1.


Coming to terms with my condition

Hannah studied microbiology at university, so she knew lots about diabetes. Several family members also have diabetes – type 1 and type 2. But her own diagnosis was still a big shock.

“I was pregnant just 18 months before I was diagnosed, and all my blood tests had been entirely normal. Nobody had raised any concerns and I didn’t have gestational diabetes.”

And given the constant back and forth of the last few years, Hannah has struggled to come to terms with her condition. She has also felt that she has not had access to the sort of support that could have helped her to manage both the physical and emotional burden of living with diabetes.

“I was left to get on with it and that’s hard, but the Diabetes UK website has been helpful when I need to check symptoms and medication details. I also use the recipe finder for inspiration when I’ve got nothing in my house to cook.”

Journey with diabetes

Juggling other health conditions

Hannah has other health conditions to manage alongside diabetes and PCOS. She also lives with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and, last year, was diagnosed with hidradenitis suppurativa – a painful, long-term skin condition that causes abscesses and scarring on the skin.

“This means that every year I’m likely to have to have two or three surgeries to drain and then pack the abscesses. This year I had one surgery on my birthday and two weeks later I was back in again for another one.”

Diabetes UK and me

Fundraising through radio broadcasting

The difficulties of the last few years have not stopped Hannah’s involvement in a fundraising challenge that in 2021 raised £29,735 for a variety of charities, including Diabetes UK.

Since 2015 Hannah has been part of a committed group of twenty-somethings who, for 24 hours only, become radio DJs for internet radio station Rasdio to raise money for charity.

On November 12, Rasdio will once again embark on a 24-hour live radio fundraiser with an aim of raising as much money as possible for Diabetes UK and a selection of other charities. Hannah, alongside her fellow DJs, will be broadcasting live via their website, inviting people to tune in to hear music, chat and play games. They will also be completing the Know Your Risk tool live on air and inviting others to give it a go too.

“Everyone involved with Rasdio nominates a charity based on their own experiences. Given my diagnosis I decided to throw my support behind Diabetes UK.”

Life with diabetes

Moving forwards

Hannah now has Trulicity injections and has managed to lose a stone in weight. This has had a positive impact on her mental health.

“I’ve learnt that moving forward is often about taking baby steps, cutting down on sugar in small steps, setting up reminders so I don’t forget to take my medication. All these things add up. You’re going to slip up every now and again but it’s not the end of the world. You just need to get back on the wagon.”

As someone who struggled in the early stages of her diagnosis because she felt she had nobody of her own age to speak to, Hannah is hoping to reach out to others in her position locally in 2023.

Back to Top
Brand Icons/Telephonecheck - FontAwesomeicons/tickicons/uk