Young Leaders in Diabetes
Rachel Lamb tells us about her experience as a Young Leader in Diabetes.
During the World Diabetes Congress which ran in Melbourne last December, Rachel Lamb was fortunate enough to be involved in the International Diabetes Federation’s Young Leaders in Diabetes (YLD) program.
The program aims to:
- Be a voice for young people affected by diabetes worldwide.
- Identify and support the development of Young Leaders in the international diabetes community.
- Empower and educate Young Leaders to support the mission of YLD and IDF by strengthening the IDF member associations.
Here is Rachel’s recap of the event.
The program was launched at the WDC in Dubai in 2011 and I was honoured to be chosen as the only Australian Young Leader. Serving on the Regional Council as a Western Pacific representative, it was our goal within the program to have more Young Leaders in Melbourne from countries that were not well represented in Dubai, or not represented at all. Getting youth involved in the future of diabetes via member associations all over the world is very important. Diabetes is a misunderstood, lonely and isolating disease at a personal level, so getting involved in a program which aims to connect young people living with diabetes all over the world and support them with their advocacy work in their communities is extremely powerful and uplifting.
Diabetes at a societal level is a huge epidemic. Involving youth in all areas of diabetes work in their local community via their member associations is beneficial for all stakeholders from program development, serving on boards and committees, fundraising, membership, marketing and media, social events, and more. The passion and personal experience of young people living with diabetes is a valuable resource in our fight against the disease and its complications worldwide. I thoroughly enjoy being a part of spreading the program throughout the world and I personally gain so much from being involved in the leadership program.
When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2009 as an 18 year old I was shocked that there was not much peer support available to me as a young adult. I felt very alone in dealing with my new diagnosis and went on to form a support group for 18-30 year olds living with type 1 diabetes in WA; Young Western Australian Insulin Takers (YWAIT). Through dealing with my own diabetes, running YWAIT, and meeting many young adults who felt the same isolation, I found my passion for alleviating the diabetes struggles in my community. Through getting involved in the IDF YLD program, I found my passion for alleviating the diabetes struggles all over the world.
Hearing stories of how Mary, a Young Leader from China, was dumped by her fiancee and fired from her job after she was diagnosed with T1D ignites that passion. Hearing how after Sana, a Young Leader from Pakistan, was diagnosed with T1D as a small child her neighbours told her parents that she was not worth investing in, she would never finish school, marry, have children or get a decent job also ignites that passion. Seeing her in Melbourne with 2 children, a husband, a job & a PhD inspires me beyond belief and proves that people living with diabetes all over the world really can do anything they put their mind too.
In fact I truly believe that having something to push against, something which tells us daily that we can’t, that we must try harder, that the odds are not in our favour, can give us even more motivation to push through all our additional barriers and succeed to great heights – not just despite our diabetes, but because of it.
I was also very fortunate to be able to trial the Dexcom CGM system during the time I was in Melbourne. Standing next to some of the YLD, namely those from developing countries who have trouble accessing insulin and test strips, with my Animas Vibe pump and my Dexcom CGM I felt so lucky to live in Australia with access to amazing technology and adequate healthcare systems. Using the CGM was a great experience. I really enjoyed having the indication of where my levels were sitting or heading, especially in the middle of such a hectic leadership program which I was helping to organise.
Having an indication of how I was sitting meant that I could make decisions around my diabetes much quicker and easier than if I had to stop what I was doing and test to make sure I would be ok in a meeting for the next hour, or on stage at the Opening Ceremony. Having that confirmation that it was my nerves and not a hypo that was making me shaky was very convenient and gave me great peace of mind throughout the program.
Thank you to AMSL Diabetes & Diabetes WA for helping me raise funds to get to Melbourne. If you would like to know more about the YLD please visit their website.
If you would like to find out how you can get involved in or support the work the Young Leaders are doing in Australia, or if you would like to get in touch with Rachel, please contact us.