It's time to realise how diabetes affects lives

Cherilyn Oakley, holding her insulin pump, talks about World Diabetes Day with her sister Deanna and mum Cherie Swords.
Cherilyn Oakley, holding her insulin pump, talks about World Diabetes Day with her sister Deanna and mum Cherie Swords. Alistair Brightman

HERVEY Bay woman Cherilyn Oakley was 12 years old when her world was turned upside down with a type one diabetes diagnosis.

She was in Year 7, preparing to go to high school, when all of a sudden she had to watch everything she ate, check her blood glucose level several times a day and inject herself with insulin when needed.

"It was a scary thing because I had always been afraid of needles," she said. "I still am a little bit scared."

As part of World Diabetes Day today, Ms Oakley said it was important for people to realise how type one diabetes affected lives.

"It is very hard to adapt to and to just live with it day by day," she said.

"People may say 'oh, there are ways to not let it get to you and get a hold of you' but sometimes you have to let it take hold of you because you can't stop it.

"You have to embrace it and go with the highs and the lows."

Ms Oakley said her diabetes affected her employment. She worked as an apprentice chef for a few weeks but after being hospitalised due to her diabetes she was taken off the roster.

She said people often confused the two different types of diabetes.

Over the years Ms Oakley has been told by various people to not eat too much sugar, but that has nothing to do with her condition; it is something people with type two have to watch.

"From when I was first diagnosed it is a bit more recognisable now but it's nowhere near to where it should be," she said.

"A lot more people do understand the difference but there are so many that don't."

Ms Oakley said she could remember everything about her diagnosis and the night she was rushed to hospital because she started suffering from blurry vision.

"It's a night I'll never forget.

"Being 12 (years old) I had no idea what it was and what everyone was fussing about.

"I just remember lying in the hospital bed and seeing everyone rush around me and blood all over the bed from when they put the cannula in my arm."

Her mum Cherie Swords said it was lucky her daughter was hospitalised at the time because the condition could be fatal if left untreated.

She said it was difficult for the family to get used to Ms Oakley's diagnosis.

As a 12-year-old she rebelled and Ms Swords said her daughter fought the condition and treatment for years and was hospitalised several times.

But now she has it under control.

"At the end of the day, she has to control her life around the diabetes," Ms Swords said.

Diabetes Day

There are two types of diabetes

Type one affects 540 people on the Fraser Coast:

  • The pancreas stops producing insulin altogether, making the body unable to turn sugar into energy
  • To stay alive, patients rely on insulin injections
  • Type one is somewhat genetic and cannot be prevented

Type two affects 5926 people on the Fraser Coast:

  • The pancreas does not produce enough insulin for the body's needs
  • Caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors
  • Can be initially managed through healthy eating and regular physical activity

Topics:  awareness diabetes hervey bay maryborough world diabetes day

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