National Diabetes Week is celebrated annually across Australia to raise awareness about all types of diabetes. This year, the ‘Heads Up on Diabetes’ theme focuses on the image, stigma and mental health of those with diabetes.
To help break this stigma, we spoke to Alan, father to 13-year-old Taya and 10-year-old Mya. Both girls suffer from type 1 diabetes, and truly embrace what it means to work hard and be yourself.
Taya was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of three. Since then, she has always competed and excelled in sports, both in school curriculum activities and beyond. Taya has qualified for state athletics for the last five years and competes in multiple events per year. She has also participated in netball, basketball, AFL and dancing.
Despite keeping an active lifestyle, type 1 diabetes never leaves the families’ side.
“You are always battling with it. Taya has had it since she was three, so she has never second guessed what she has needed to do,” said Alan.
“Taya and Mya are able to achieve what they can through sheer hard work. They take care of their diabetes to ensure they can do what other kids can do – things like bike riding, having fun, going out and trying something new.”
“Mya has only just been diagnosed, so she used to look at her big sister doing the hard work, and now she is doing the same thing.”
Just like her older sister, Mya is also a superstar on the track. She most recently became a Victorian state athletics silver medallist in the 1100 metre walk.
“They don’t let anything get in their way and nothing stops them from doing what they want. Kids can do anything. We do a lot of hard work behind the scenes, but the girls love what they do and have fun doing it.”
At one stage, Taya was using an insulin pump and never shied away from showing it. She was never scared or embarrassed to show the people around her what she was on, helping break down the stigma associated with type 1 diabetes.
“It is a team effort between the kids and the parents. The kids are able to do all the sport they do by us as parents having the knowledge to support their recovery, making sure their bloods and nutrition are in check. If you have this part balanced out and ensure their health is always a priority – you can do anything you want.”
“Being a parent to children with type 1 diabetes is a constant fight. There are always ups and downs and days with struggles, but we have a good foundation and put in the work. Sport is something we all love and make the time to do.”
Despite the challenges of type 1 diabetes, these fearless young girls prove anything is possible.
For more information on diabetes, please visit https://bit.ly/36E5hGb