The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (JDRF) is putting Australians to the test of walking 120,000 steps for October to raise awareness for type 1 diabetes, a cause which hits close to home for many Australians. (Image Source: Diabetes UK)
By Alexandra Bull | @ally_bull19
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system is activated to destroy the cells in the pancreas which produces insulin. There is no known cause of the autoimmune reaction, there is no cure and it cannot be prevented.
Approximately 120,000 Australians live with type 1 diabetes, which requires ongoing insulin therapy. Although it can occur at any age, type 1 is often diagnosed in childhood and is not caused by lifestyle factors.
Every five minutes someone is diagnosed with (type 1 or 2) diabetes which equates to almost 300 people in Australia every day. Type 1 represents 10 to 15 per cent of all cases of diabetes and is increasing each year.
Symptoms can include excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, weakness, fatigue and blurred vision. Symptoms are managed with insulin injections up to several times a day or the use of an insulin pump, which people with type 1 have to wear 24 hours a day.
JDRF is the leading global organisation in funding type 1 diabetes research. This year, they are challenging people to walk 120,000 steps in October for the 120,000 Australians who are living with this illness.
This cause hits very close to home for many people, including Ramanjeet Arkan, 21, who was diagnosed with diabetes when she was just two-and-a-half and also has family members who have type 1 diabetes.
“I was diagnosed in February 2002, just before my third birthday, I remember the day quite well. My mum noticed the signs of my diagnoses quickly as she had dealt with them before,” Ramanjeet said.
“Being three at the time, when I went to the hospital, I didn’t think it was a big deal but was rather cool as ‘I was the same as my big brother Bob,’ I used to think to myself,” she said.
Ramanjeet says she has had her fair number of ups and downs with her diabetes, the biggest time being when she was around 12-15, which is already a difficult time for many teenagers as it is when a lot begins to change in their lives.
“I was honestly just sick and tired of having this illness and I thought ignoring it would just make it go away,” Ramanjeet said.
“I’ve always been lucky enough to have doctors that always helped me manage my diabetes really well and pulled me out of health ruts quite regularly. I was also fortunate enough to be able to receive an insulin pump at a young age which has helped me manage my diabetes quite well.”
Although Ramanjeet said type 1 can be a struggle that she has learnt to deal with, she acknowledged that she is lucky enough to have access to some of the best healthcare in the world at the moment.
“Having access to insulin pumps, sensors, BGL monitors and everything in between has made living with diabetes quite easy. Don’t get me wrong though, there are definitely still some big things that are significantly different when living with type 1” she said.
“Growing up, and even now, people question everything you do. Having diabetes, I do have to watch what I eat and drink, my exercise and just my general health, but it’s nothing that is over-the-top compared to any other healthy/mindful person.”
JDRF allows you to join as a team or an individual, setting your own fundraising goal, wherever you are in the world. So far, there has already been $848,219 raised this year, along with a huge 74,468,175 steps walked in the first week alone.
“Along with myself, my dad, brother, uncle and cousin all have diabetes too, which affects those closest to me such as my other siblings and my mum. Unfortunately, it’s not something you see advertised a lot in places, so hopefully, this challenge helps with raising awareness and recognition of the illness,” Ramanjeet said
“I joined the walk this year in hopes of just getting my friends and their families to understand the effects it has on people and their families.”
“Type 1 diabetes receives some of the lowest amounts of government funding towards research in Australia and any little bit counts,” Ramanjeet said.
You can learn more about JDRF here and the work they are doing to turn type 1 into type none.