A real fighter marks 50 years with diabetes 17 July 2019 Fifty years after she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Bundaberg’s Maria Lavaring received a medal to mark the occasion. “I was only 13 months old and still living in Cyprus when I was first diagnosed with diabetes,” said Maria. “We moved to Australia in 1963 and settled in Mareeba in North Queensland. “There was only one other person in the town with diabetes and no-one knew much about it. So it was tough on me and my family.” Unlike type 2 diabetes, the onset of type 1 cannot be predicted or slowed through treatment, diet or exercise. It is an autoimmune condition that destroys insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Nearly 23,000 Queenslanders have type 1 diabetes and must inject synthetic insulin several times a day. The challenge for people injecting insulin is finding the delicate balance between the danger of a coma caused by hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose, or hypo) on one hand and the deadly risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, caused by hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose), on the other. Maria celebrated her 50th anniversary of living with type 1 diabetes at a special morning tea for Kellion Victory Medal recipients, hosted by Diabetes Queensland on Sunday 14 July to mark the beginning of National Diabetes Week. The medals were presented by Dr Alan Stocks AM of the Kellion Diabetes Foundation. Maria said, “Over the years I’ve had quite a few health problems including asthma, osteoporosis, breast cancer, pneumonia and heart disease. But I’m still here because I’m a real fighter.” “There are so many people who are worse off than me. I’ll continue to battle on,” she said.