Since retiring, Zahoor, left, helps support others with Type 2 diabetes. He is pictured with Tania, another Diabetes UK volunteer
"I came to the UK about 46 years ago. It was the early 1970s and I worked very hard: 12 hours a day, sometimes even 15 hours a day six to seven days a week.
I was doing lots of manual work in the manufacturing industries. I did play cricket and swimming when I had time but there wasn’t much food in my belly. All I was thinking to save some money to bring my family to live with me.
After five to six years of hard work I managed to save enough for my family to come and live with me. I started to have regular Asian spicy food cooked and served and have time to relax. But I started to slow down and was less active and enjoying life a bit too much.
I started to feel tired and thirsty. I was also gaining weight. I had an accident and lost the tips of my middle and third finger. I was taken to hospital where during a routine blood test before a minor operation I was told I have high glucose in my blood and I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. My life was turned upside down. I didn't know where to turn and my life came to a standstill.
I didn't have any idea about managing Type 2 diabetes at that time. Although lots of my relatives had Type 2 diabetes, I didn't bother to talk about it as I was so busy in my work and worrying about getting my own house here in UK.
I did try to stay on course to manage my diabetes without any medication for over 12 years but I started to slip into living life and enjoying and indulging myself with very rich high calorie food, when I started going out in the town with my new friends.
I needed some help, as I was put on medication. My blood glucose had started spiralling. But then one day I had news from a member of my family has change my life for good and forever .
Shocked into changing
My uncle who was himself living with Type 2 diabetes in New York told me that my cousin living in Pakistan, who also had Type 2 diabetes, had had an accident and hurt her foot badly. In fact she was about to have foot amputated because gangrene has developed. Sadly after the second amputation from the knee she died.
t was a real shock to me and I started to have second thoughts and started to have lots of changes in my lifestyle and began to learn more about Type 2 diabetes by meeting with others who had it. I was determined to go back to my fridge and eat food which helped me to keep me in control of my diabetes.
(I had decided to get my own fridge – otherwise I was having cooked food with my family, which was causing the problems due to spicy food cooked in vegetable oil and frequently use of red meat in curry rich in spices. It meant I could buy my own selection of food which I thought will help to keep my blood glucose down. I decided to do my own shopping and bought my fridge for storage of bread, chicken, fish and fruit for 5 a day consumption and use of low fat ( green top) semi skimmed milk. I kept having meals together with my family but cooked from all the ingredients taken from my(!) Fridge! I started having encouraging results with lower blood glucose levels).
I went to a Diabetes UK event in my borough - Waltham Forest - at Leyton in the London Orient Football Building where I decided to join Diabetes UK as volunteer as I was about to retire from my working life.
I put my head down and learned quite a lot from the Diabetes UK website which have lots of literature and information how to keep control on blood glucose if suffering with Type 2.
I tried to go on as many as events offered by Diabetes UK as I could. I went on training courses and finally learned enough to be the Community Champion. I am doing radio interviews, talk shows interviews on TV, doing my own roadshows by going in Mosques, Churches, Temples or whatever.
I can engage with lots of peoples in ethnic communities to get the message through to encourage them to take control of their destiny and start living healthy life and eat the food which is good to keep their blood glucose low and stay healthy.
I use my Facebook, WhatsApp and social and electronic Media to reach many thousands of family and friends for their help to move my campaign further into mixed ethnic communities and I am confident that I am succeeding in this worthy cause.
What I really want and like to do in rest of my life is to dedicate the rest of my life to gain maximum knowledge and ways to help others with Type 2 or at risk of it, by reaching out, particularly to those living in ethnic communities and looking for someone who can give them knowledge and give them some confidence of believing their selves that they must do everything to take control and learn to manage their condition and enjoy their life to the best.
I’ve tried to give you my honest insight and hope that my life story and my message will encourage people to deal with their Type 2.
All my uncles, my mother’s brothers and sisters and my own three sisters and sisters in laws have Type 2 diabetes and all of them are on medication - one is taking insulin."
As well as being a Diabetes UK Champion, Zahoor is also chair of the Patient Participation Group at his GP’s surgery in Leytonstone and a member of NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group’s Patient Reference Group and its Diabetes Strategy Board.
Zahoor is using his own experience of having Type 2 to help educate others about the condition.