TAMWORTH siblings Jade Mercer and Callan Elliott share more than just a family bond, both living with an insidious condition for which there is no cure.
They are among more than 120,000 Australians living with type 1 diabetes and on Sunday they’ll don their walking shoes in an effort to ensure one day they’ll be living disease-free. The annual Walk to Cure Diabetes is on Sunday and the Tamworth event in Bicentennial Park is one of about 40 around Australia.
This year the fundraising goal is up to $1.5 million to support the most promising type 1 diabetes research in Australia, with the aim of eventually finding a cure.
Jade, 27, and Callan, 24, were both diagnosed as young children with the condition, where the pancreas stops making insulin, requiring regular insulin injections and blood glucose tests. Neither can remember a time without daily injections and tests, although in recent years an insulin pump that’s used every three days has made their lives a little easier.
They still must test their glucose levels up to 12 times a day though, meaning their condition is never far from their thoughts.
As a child, Jade said, having a chronic illness meant she had to live her life differently from her friends.
“It impacted on what I ate ... and having a sleepover at a friend’s house meant mum had to drop in and give me my injections,” she said.
Jade said her parents became experts in the art of diabetes management, particularly after her younger brother received the same diagnosis.
“Around this time, diabetes and particularly type 1, was not well known of in our community,” she said.
“The word diabetes was commonly associated with comments and questions such as ‘you ate too much sugar, didn’t you?’ and ‘can you catch it?’, with most people having little to no idea about the disease or its impact on a young person and their family.”
She said Sunday’s walk was also about awareness, with too many people still failing to realise that unlike type 2 diabetes, the type 1 form had nothing to do with lifestyle issues but was rather “something you can’t control”.
It’s the first time Tamworth has hosted a walk, which is over 4km and begins at 10am near the Bicentennial Park stage, with prizes on offer for best dressed individual and team.
Lunch and family activities will start at 11am.