When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I never realised the impact it would have on my life. The endless needles, medications, worries, appointments and financial costs accompanying diabetes is a huge burden to live with for the rest of my life. Yet along the way, I found my passion for education within healthcare and my drive for helping other people with diabetes.
My first visit to the diabetes educator after my diagnosis triggered my interest in educating patients about health. As I continued to learn about diabetes through living it, I knew that I wanted to be involved with diabetes healthcare. Fast forward to today and I am blown away by the opportunities that have been offered to me and by my own achievements.
Being nominated to represent Diabetes Australia as a Young Leader in Diabetes (YLD) with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) was an incredible honour. Like any organisation I choose to be involve with, I am giving it my everything. I’m their social media manager, chair-elect for the Western Pacific region and leader of the logistics group within the Vancouver YLD training taskforce. More recently, I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve as the YLD representative on the Diabetes Education Consultative Section (DECS) committee with the IDF.
DECS met last month at IDF headquarters in Brussels for a two day meeting, which I was also invited along to. Not only was this my first time ever in Belgium, it was my first time ever in Europe! In additional, I met with names I had only read through research articles or magazines. Yet, when it came time to work, everyone at the table was an equal. We discussed things related to diabetes education all the way through to how it would affect a person with diabetes in various regions around the world. I was shocked when my suggestions were included and strangely nervous, hoping that it would result in something positive. It was a whirlwind couple of days, which now feels like an alternative reality that never existed.
Today, I met with my PhD supervisor nervous as anything regarding my upcoming confirmation, which is a major hurdle milestone in the PhD journey. And somehow the conversation deviated to my time in Brussels. I gushed on about the amazing experience it was to have my suggestions heard and to learn more about diabetes education on a global perspective. Then I noticed my supervisor sitting back and smiling at me.
“Ashley, look at you, you are already helping to shape and improve diabetes education worldwide. You understand what people with diabetes need and your PhD project will make a difference. You can do this.”
So cheers to diabetes, for giving me the drive and purpose towards my career in an area I’m extremely passionate in. Thank you for the opportunities to travel around the world and the friendships from each corner of the globe. With diabetes, I can and will make a difference.
p.s. I’m still super nervous for my upcoming PhD confirmation. Well wishes and thoughts are most welcome!