The angel in the house

In Australia today, someone is diagnosed with a form of diabetes every five minutes. That’s 280 people every day whose lives are directly impacted. But diabetes also affects the families and support groups of those diagnosed as well. I’m Steve Brett, and this is my family’s story.

Jacinta Amy was the happy, healthy and fun-loving daughter of Jacquie and I. Like any young girl, she loved her family, her home and her cat. And above all, she loved to sing. In fact, she could sing before she could talk, and she sang all day, every day whenever she could. As her parents, we loved to hear her voice and encouraged her often.

This all changed one fateful day, when at the tender age of just six years old after feeling unwell, Jacinta was admitted to hospital. That day, the day we call D-day, Jacinta was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Our family and our world came to a sudden halt. We were in shock; the family was devastated.

What was diabetes about? Why had it come to us? What would it do to our little singing angel? These questions raced through our minds as we began to learn the size of the task in front of us. The house fell quiet.

During this time, our family struggled to survive. In what felt like an ocean of pain, loss and bewilderment, the Diabetes Educator stood alone as an island of help and understanding for us and we clung on to that like our lives depended on it because at the time it seemed that it did. The Diabetes Educator made the unbearable achievable, as we physically restrained our precious little angel and time after time, day after day stuck needles into her innocent soft flesh. The family all mourned the loss of ‘normal’ life and with help, discovered a ‘new normal’ where we could not just survive but thrive.

Several years later with advancements in medical devices technology driven by successful research, Jacinta transferred to an insulin pump. She went from four or five needle injections every day to one single set change every three days. The transition wasn’t easy, there was a lot of fear, many unknowns and much to be unsure of. We again leaned on our Diabetes Educator for support to get through this difficult period with success.

Then it happened. One fine morning, a few weeks later, Jacquie and I were making coffee, when we stopped and froze at what we heard. It was like listening to an angel – that beautiful voice we had not heard for years. The singing rang through the house and immediately brought light back into our lives.

Jacinta Amy is now a university student doing her Bachelor of Music and she has been pumping insulin for fifteen years. You can listen to more of her wonderful songs here.

Improved life outcomes for people with diabetes and their families is our goal. Advancements in diabetes management are only possible through research. There might be a cure for diabetes one day, but until that day comes we want to assist people living with diabetes every day with evidence-based treatment and knowledge that can be applied and shared through Diabetes Educators.

With the help and support of individuals and organisations, ADRF is funding research that is producing new knowledge, developing new technologies and filling in the knowledge gaps to supply programs, information and assistance that improves the lives of people with diabetes.

We need $200,000 this year to fund research that will change lives. Research that may very well help to get someone like Jacinta Amy singing again.

As the Chair of the ADEA Diabetes Research Foundation, I’m doing all I can to help others who might face the same challenge that my family did. You can help by:

Your support will directly assist the work of diabetes educators around Australia and ensure we continue to uncover new ways for people with diabetes to not only live but to live well.

Will you join me this World Diabetes Day and make a difference to the future of people with diabetes?

Not just for our future musicians, artists, football players, lawyers, or entrepreneurs.

But for the people that support their dreams and enable them to happen.

People just like you.

Steven Brett, ADRF Chair

All donations over $2 to ADEA Research Foundation are tax-deductible and 100% of your donation will go directly to fund research grants.