London Olympics torchbearer Gavin Griffiths is living proof that a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis is no obstacle to making the most out of life.
Rather than shy away from challenges, his condition has spurred him on to do things that most people would never contemplate doing but which he does to show how diabetes motivates him to achieve.
The 25-year-old, who was diagnosed with T1D when he was eight, has accomplished more than 70 ultra-endurance feats including 30 marathons in 30 days across the length of the United Kingdom, where he was born.
Gavin recently travelled to Perth to run a sports clinic for young people with T1D and speak at a PMH and Diabetes WA information night.
We spoke to Gavin to get his take on living with T1D.
Has diabetes ever held you back? As a child it made me feel very different and it wasn't easy to accept but once I did find myself, I got back into sports and into doing the things I enjoyed in life, made new friends and diabetes has never been something to hold me back at all.
How do you manage diabetes with an active lifestyle? I believe that the more active you are the easier it becomes to manage your diabetes — being fitter and healthier does play a part with long-term diabetes control. Managing it requires responsibility and by taking on that daily responsibility to test your blood sugars regularly enough, to take the required units of insulin your body needs and to keep on top of the condition, by taking that responsibility on, you gain a power to go on and achieve anything you set your mind to in life.
Your biggest achievement? The 30 marathons in 30 days challenge was crazy! I wanted to do something big for the Type 1 Diabetes cause as I felt there was a sincere lack of awareness about T1D. It was very tough but I seemed to grow in confidence the further I got and the inspiration for me came through the local diabetes communities I met along with way.
What is DiAthlete? DiAthlete is the T1D revolution! DiAthlete came about initially through my experiences of taking on these big and crazy endurance challenges, and then it developed into something more — fun styles of diabetes education, especially around sports and exercise, along with the essential encouragement and empowerment to go with it.
Why did you start it? You hear all the time about the risks, and don't get me wrong, it is essential these risks are understood. DiAthlete, however, is about the positives because there isn't much talk about that. Effectively my goal is to rebrand diabetes in a way, to transform the negative view of being a 'diabetic' where the condition seems to be this horrible burden, into the concept for people with T1D to become DiAthletes. Anyone living with T1D is welcome to become a member of #TeamDiAthlete!
What do you want kids living with T1D to know? I want them to know that living with this condition does not hinder their lives, it can be quite the opposite: they are smarter than the average person because they have to work out things such as carb counting and blood sugar levels; they are more responsible from a young age, more mature because of this, certainly much stronger and braver than the average person has to be, and through taking on the daily responsibility of managing this condition, they have the power to go on and achieve in their lives. I have been to six continents of the world, made many amazing friends from many countries worldwide, had many great adventures and accomplished many tough challenges, even carried the Olympic Flame, and I would never have done any of it had I not have lived with T1D and believed in myself.