Type 1 prime minister ‘inspiring’
A prime minister with type 1 diabetes proves having the condition should be “no barrier to living life to the full”, Diabetes UK’s chief executive has said.
In an interview published on the day Theresa May, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2012, takes over leading the country from David Cameron, Chris Askew said reports the condition could kill was an “extraordinary misunderstanding”.
Speaking to The Diabetes Times in the publication’s feature The Big Feature, Mr Askew said: “There have been a number of reports in the media that some MPs questioned whether type 1 diabetes could kill her.
“What an extraordinary misunderstanding, right across the country there are people living with diabetes day in day out that are proving that diabetes is no barrier to living life to the full.
“Having a prime minister with type 1 diabetes is a testament to that fact.”
Blogger and The Diabetes Times contributor Laura Cleverly, who writes under the alias of Ninjabetic, said: “Leaving politics aside it’s really inspiring that our new prime minister has got type 1 diabetes and is still leading the country.
“From a personal point of view I think that it’s something to celebrate, as it shows that you can achieve great things while having the condition.
“All long-term conditions are really important but I feel that care for type 1 diabetes is getting worse, especially in the light of the State of the Nation report, which has shown we really need a light shining on the condition right now.”
It is thought Ms May is the first world leader to have type 1 diabetes.
In the UK, 3.2 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, and it is estimated that by 2025, this figure will reach 5 million people.
Only about 10 per cent of adults are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, like Theresa May.
According to the charity, one in five people diagnosed with type 1 are over 40 when they develop it.
“But, then my reaction was: ‘Oh no, I’m going to have to inject’ and thinking about what that would mean in practical terms.”
However, since her diagnosis, Ms May has successfully managed her condition.
She said: “In basic management terms, it’s the same for everybody. You have to get into a routine where you are regularly doing the testing.”
She now speaks openly about her condition in a bid to educate people that when managed correctly it does not hold you back from living your life.
“I would like the message to get across that it doesn’t change what you can do. The more people can see that people with diabetes can lead a normal life doing the sort of things that other people do, the easier it is for those who are diagnosed with it to deal with it.
“The fact is that you can still do whatever you want to do, for example, on holiday my husband and I do a lot of quite strenuous walking up mountains in Switzerland, and it doesn’t stop me doing it. I can still do things like that and can still do the job.
“But, people who don’t understand it assume that the fact you have a condition means there must be something you can’t do; that it must change how you live your life in some way.
“And, of course, it does change your life in that you have to make sure you’ve got the right diet and that you’re managing your blood sugar levels, but, beyond making sure you’ve got that routine, you just get on with other things exactly the same.”