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Why One-on-One events help parents and kids

Sarah King remembers her first One on One event for young adolescents with type 1 diabetes and their parents, which she attended as a volunteer.

 

"It was so much fun. We all had diabetes so there were no presumptions. We all just got on with it."

 

Sarah, a nurse at Caboolture Hospital, had been unwell for about four years when she was finally diagnosed in 2011 with MODY, or Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young. She was 24.

 

MODY is a rare form of diabetes which is different from both type 1 and type 2, and runs strongly in families. MODY is caused by a mutation (or change) in a single gene. If a parent has this gene mutation, any child they have has a 50 per cent chance of inheriting it from them.

 

At a later appointment with her endocrinologist, test results showed Sarah had the lowest level of insulin production possible so she was told "You officially have type 1".

That wasn't the end of it.

 

About the same time, Sarah was also diagnosed with Cowden Syndrome, a disorder characterized by multiple noncancerous, tumour-like growths and an increased risk of developing certain cancers.

 

"It just means that I spend a lot of my life at medical appointments," Sarah said. "And getting bits cut out of me."

 

Through living with these conditions, Sarah has developed a unique way of viewing her diabetes.

 

"It's not universally destructive. It's not like some illnesses that you know will kill you. How it manifests in people is different, and it's how we respond to it that makes the difference.

 

"The only trait we have in common is that we're all different and so is how we cope with diabetes."

 

Sarah says she continues to volunteer at One on One events because she feels she is helped as much as she helps other people.

 

"There was one little girl who was having a really bad night. She was having hypo after hypo. I was sitting with her and her mum. Just to keep the conversation going I started talking about my upcoming overseas trip.

 

"This girl's eyes lit up and she asked 'Is that even possible'?" The unspoken words were "if you have diabetes".

 

Sarah said both she and the little girl's Mum rushed to answer "Yes!!!"

 

Sarah thinks One on One events are a valuable tool for parents to get support, ideas and strategies to help their child cope with diabetes.

 

"One Mum came by herself. She was so concerned about her son, who didn't want to deal with his diabetes. She came on her own to get some ideas about how to help him."

What will help Sarah?

 

"It's nice to be a positive role model. No questions, no judgments. I'm just with the kids, another person with diabetes, just like them," Sarah said.

 

The next One on One Parent Seminar will be held in Brisbane at the Broncos League Club in Red Hill. Click here for more information.

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