From war time to 2021 – 80 years with diabetes, a tribute to Anna Moresby 12 May 2021 Tribute – Anna Moresby on 80 years of living with diabetes, insulin and her hope for a cure. When Anna Moresby was four years old her father promised her some toffee treats, if a cure for diabetes was every found. That memory was etched in the 85-year old’s mind until she passed away in June 2021. A promise that was never fulfilled during her lifetime. “It was war time England,and you couldn’t get sweets, so toffee was an absolute treat. My father said if they ever found a cure for diabetes, he would buy me a tin of toffee. I’m still waiting,” laughs Anna while recalling the conversation. Anna , lived with diabetes for 80-years, one of very few people who have done so, before she passed away peacefully. She not only defied the odds to live a long and rewarding life, she also became a prominent advocate for diabetes. “I have type 1 diabetes and require five insulin injections a day. I have always self-administered but modern treatments and technology has improved the way diabetes is managed,” she said. By the time Anna was diagnosed in the 1940’s insulin was readily available, a modern miracle that saved her life. But in the early years, diabetes was a difficult condition to navigate with misinformation and little support. It made for a difficult childhood. “I wasn’t allowed to play sport at school. People thought there was a lot you couldn’t do if you had diabetes. I wanted to be a nurse but back then you couldn’t do nursing or teaching or any of the professions that were government-run if you had diabetes.” A severe infection that developed into pneumonia landed Anna in hospital, and it was here that her life would change for the better. “The local hospital said I should get in touch with Doctor Lawrence, who was famous for treating people with diabetes. He was the first doctor in England to administer insulin and he also had diabetes himself. I had to travel to King’s College Hospital in London and that is where my whole life turned around,” Anna said. Doctor Robert Daniel Lawrence was a diabetes specialist and one of three founders of the International Diabetes Federation. He was also one of the first people to receive regular insulin injections in 1923.Anna and her family had found the support and education they desperately needed in Doctor Lawrence and the King’s College Hospital. “A lot of the things I’d been told I couldn’t do, Doctor Lawrence said I could. He was a diabetic so he really knew what it was like. Under his guidance my life improved. I could run around and play sport, I loved riding horses which I could do openly without feeling like the doctors would put a stop to it. Before then, exercise was forbidden if you had diabetes.” King’s College Hospital gave Anna a sense of normalcy. “There was a dedicated wing for people with diabetes, so I was able to meet other children with diabetes. It was just wonderful, my parents at last had advice on what to do and how to look after me. After meeting Doctor Lawrence a totally different world opened up.” Living with diabetes in war time England was not without its challenges, with rations and a strict diet to follow, Anna said her parents sourced fresh food from farmers. “One thing I can remember were dried eggs, I didn’t see a real egg until I was six when I went to stay with my grandparents. It was so much more flavoursome than the horrible, dried egg powder we were having.” Travelling to London from her hometown of Kent to receive care at King’s College Hospital was a matter of life or death during the war. “My father and I were driving to London during air raids, you could hear the whine of the bombs and it would stop and you never knew where it was going to drop. I remember we got out of the car and hid in a ditch. I don’t know where it crashed but we had a guardian angel looking over us that day.” “I was twelve at the time and when you live as a child in war zones you just take it in your stride. We knew which were the German planes and which were the English planes. It’s amazing what you pick up as a young person,” she reflected. After the war, thousands of English people immigrated to escape the post war era. The Moresby’s joined the exodus and Anna along with her parents and younger brother settled in Melbourne, Australia. “We were told that Melbourne had the best diabetic doctors so that was the only thing that drew us to Melbourne.” Anna went on to marry and have two sons, one who now lives with type 1 diabetes.She said the quality of life for people living with diabetes had improved because of better treatments and technologies. “Besides insulin I think the most important advancement for me has been the ability to monitor your blood sugar levels. Prior to that, you had to do a urine test, but once the monitors came in you were much more independent and you did not have to rely on the doctors so much. It gave us the freedom to travel.” If you would like to donate to vital research so people like Anna can live healthy, long and happy lives you can here. 100% of all donations go directly to diabetes related research.