Emily Vuong is a 23 year-old half-Australian, half-Vietnamese woman from Perth, WA. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at just 14 months. “Because I was so little, it was very difficult for my parents to figure out what was happening with me – I was very lethargic and just wanted to sleep all the time!”
Emily’s parents then took her to their local GP, who ran some tests, before falsely diagnosing her with the common cold and sending her home. “My parents took me home, but my condition was worsening. They called a child nurse hotline and were told to take me to the hospital immediately, where I was put into the ICU.” Emily was then diagnosed with T1D.
Fast-forward 22 years and Emily lives an active lifestyle, refusing to be held back by her diabetes. In fact, Emily just recently completed her first marathon!
Q: Why did you choose the NYC Marathon?
New York has always been my favourite city in the world – I just love it! My friend, Britt, ran it in 2018 and I was so inspired watching her journey. I did some research and found out how awesome the NYC Marathon is, I felt like I had to do it!
Q: What kept you motivated throughout your training?
Knowing that I was showing so many people that anything is possible was so motivating! I wanted to prove to myself and everyone around me that my diabetes would never limit me in what I wanted to do in life.
I was also so motivated with the amount of support I received with fundraising and the level of encouragement I received throughout my training.
Q: How did you train for the marathon? Were there any tools that helped you in your preparation?
I trained 5 times a week, 3 running sessions and 2 sessions in the gym. I really made sure to keep up with my strength training to prevent injury and stabilise my insulin sensitivity. In total, it took me about 8 months to build up to the marathon!
Using Dexcom G5 Mobile was pivotal in my marathon journey. Using Dexcom allowed me to have a better understanding of how my glucose levels reacted to different types of training. It also helped me stay aware during my runs, especially the longer ones.
The Share app was also an important tool for my family, who would use it whenever I was out on runs. It gave them so much peace of mind.
With Dexcom I didn’t worry as much about night-time hypos after training, as I knew the alarm would wake me up. I could also treat lows before they happened while on runs, which meant I didn’t have to stop training to eat and wait for my sugars to come back up.
Q: What advice would you give others looking into doing a marathon?
You don’t have to be an amazing runner to start. Just do it and the rest will come! The biggest part of running is consistency. With small, incremental increases in your training load each week, you’ll be amazed at how far your running has come.
I was never a runner. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to run a marathon one day! Two years ago, I entered a 12km run and couldn’t even jog the whole way. I can’t believe how far I’ve come since then!
Q: If you were to do it again, what would you do differently?
Honestly, the only thing that would change is how nervous I was at the starting line. I had no idea how I would manage to finish a marathon. All the adrenaline just made my blood sugars skyrocket!
It was the most amazing experience. I wish I could relive the day!
Q: What was the moment you were most proud of from the whole experience?
I was overcome with emotion at the finish line, thinking about how far I’d come in my running journey, how much money I’d raised in the process and how many people had shown me so much kindness and support. I was proud of doing this really hard thing despite my diabetes.
Growing up I had always felt so different because of my diabetes. Running that marathon and seeing how much of an effect I could have on people by pushing my own boundaries, made me realise that diabetes was actually my superpower.
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“Dexcom was pivotal in my marathon journey. Using it allowed me to have a better understanding of how my glucose levels reacted to different types of training. It also helped me stay aware during my runs, especially the longer ones.”
Sam believes that T1D doesn’t need to hold you back from accomplishing your dreams. In 2007, Sam debuted in professional AFL for the Western Bulldogs, and since then has gone from competing on the field to fatherhood. In 2020, Sam upgraded from Dexcom G5 Mobile to Dexcom G6 to monitor and manage his diabetes.
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