Sufferer says diagnosis was complete surprise
IF THERE is one message Joan Brown has for people at risk of getting diabetes, it is to do whatever it takes to stop it from happening.
Eli Waters resident and former model is one of the 7300 people living with diabetes on the Fraser Coast, and says she would not wish it on anyone.
The 78-year-old was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2003 after getting very sick on a camping trip to remote Queensland with her husband Peter.
"I was getting a lot of cramping in my legs, and just didn't feel 100% the whole time," Mrs Brown said.
"By the time we got home I was very unwell, and my mouth was full of ulcers."
When the doctors received her blood sugar levels, they showed she had five times the healthy amount of sugar in her system.
"It was a surprise for me because I have always been very slim," she said.
"I never ate fat because it made me sick, but it turned out it was the genetic type."
Mrs Brown said her health never held her back, until six months ago when she found out she had pancreatic cancer and was told she only had two weeks to live unless she had the organ removed.
"I had my pancreas removed and it was the hardest operation I'd ever had," she said.
"I am almost finished with my chemotherapy, which was making me even sicker."
For Mrs Brown, and other people with the condition, the effects of diabetes will be with her for the rest of her life.
"People should take care of themselves.
"I couldn't do much about my type but if you can prevent getting it, you need to do it."
BY THE NUMBERS
About 93,000 Queenslanders have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.
There are 221,936 Queenslanders with diabetes, including type 1, type 2 and gestational.
Queensland's yearly hospital bill for diabetes and related complications is $610 million.
Diabetes takes up 16% of Queensland's hospital beds (hospital bed days).
Diabetes will replace heart disease as the major burden on Australia's health system by next year.
Diabetes can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, limb amputation, depression, anxiety and blindness.