Meet Bianca Bertrand — she's a glass half-full rather than half-empty person, always looking at the positives in life, especially when it comes to managing her Type 1 Diabetes.
“You live with Type 1 Diabetes and it ruins your life or you live with Type 1 Diabetes and you make the most of it — that’s what I’ve chosen to do,” the 22-year-old Bunbury woman said.
That decision was what drove her to get involved in diabetes research as a 14-year-old — and something she continues to be involved in today (she was the first person in the world recruited to the global AdDIT — Adolescent Type 1 Diabetes cardio-renal Intervention Trial — study).
“I got told by my diabetes educators at PMH that they were doing a study and that they needed people who were diabetics and wanted to make a change and I thought, ‘that’s me’, and I put my hand up for it straight away,” Bianca, who was diagnosed with diabetes at age two, said.
“For me, because I’ve had it for so long, I just want to help other people so that they don’t have to have the problems I’ve had from diabetes. If I don’t get involved in research and no one else does, how are doctors going to learn more about diabetes?
“You’ve got nothing to lose by doing a study – you’ve got everything to gain and if people don’t get involved and then sit back and say they want a cure, well you can’t have a cure unless you have the ‘guinea pigs’ to find new drugs, treatments or technologies that can help.
“Why wouldn’t you want to be involved in that?”
Children’s Diabetes Centre research nurse, Alison Roberts, said participation in research involved commitment as sometimes studies were overnight, all day or even months or years long.
It also involved regular appointments and sample collection, trying new technologies or in the case of AdDIT, taking medication on a daily basis.
“People who participate in research are motivated. Our research families are keen to help with finding better ways to manage or understand diabetes and want to help build on what we already know,” she said.
“We believe participation in research is important as it engages the community and they teach us about the practicalities of living with a chronic disease which can inform further research.”
Researchers at the Children’s Diabetes Centre are working hard to improve the lives of children with T1D through clinical trials and research studies. The Children’s Diabetes Centre trials are generally open to 12-35 year-olds.