Diabetes is the focus of World Health Day 2016, marked on April 7. Some 422 million adults around the globe are now living with the disease, including one in five adult Barbadians. 18-year old Melissa is one of them.
My name is Mellissa Goodman and I was diagnosed with type1 diabetes about a year ago. Since then I have learned a lot, laughed a lot and cried a lot.
Photo courtesy of Mellissa
Diabetes for me is not the end of the world: it has made me see the strength I never had before. I live with this chronic disease like any other normal human being. At first it was shocking to me, really sad news and I cried and cried. But my mum helped me to be strong and gave me determination. She just said, “Stop crying, Mellissa!” I have no choice now but to get on with it. I do feel it’s unfair but God has a plan for all of us and I figure this is his plan for me.
I’m like anyone else really, all I need to do is take my medication on time and check my blood sugar. My diabetes is not affecting me. It’s normal. I have good people around me who are supportive and make sure I take my insulin shots. I have good times and bad times, when I just don’t feel like injecting myself five times a day for the rest of my life. Having to do it is the worst thing about my condition. But I have family and friends helping me do what I need to do.
“My mum has really encouraged me to get to grips with the illness and pushed me to join the Barbados Diabetes Association. I’m a volunteer there. It’s been good for me.”
My mum has also really encouraged me to get to grips with the illness and pushed me to join the Barbados Diabetes Association. I’m a volunteer there. It’s been good for me and last year the Association sent me to a conference in Vancouver where I met other people with diabetes from all over the world. We had to do a project and mine was to return to Barbados and make diabetes as important as the other NCDs by increasing awareness.
I want to be a spokesperson and educate people. That’s my missions, that’s my main aim. To let my voice be heard to improve the impact on diabetes, making it a national priority and educating our people about this chronic disease.
“You certainly have more control over whether you get type 2 diabetes. I think it’s important to tell people about healthy eating and exercising to help them avoid this illness.”
I want to start going to different youth organisations and get the message out there. I think it makes sense to target young people, as older adults are already set in their ways. I know my type 1 diabetes is not lifestyle-related and you can’t control whether you get it or not but you certainly have a lot more control over whether you get type 2 diabetes. I think it’s important to tell people about healthy eating and exercising to help them avoid this illness if they can.
When I look at my future I feel optimistic. I’m always up for trying new things and even entered the Miss Teen Barbados competition. I’m living with diabetes but diabetes is not the end of me.
World Health Organization Global report on Diabetes (Barbados diabetes reversal study featured on page 52)