INSTEAD of celebrating Year 12 Leavers with her friends, Maya Hayden-Evans ended up in a hospital room.
“Finishing school is meant to be the start of your life,” her older sister Georgia Evans said.
“Instead, my sister was told she had an incurable condition that would affect everything she did in life from now on.”
It was December 2012 and Maya – now 22 – had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“No one in our family has diabetes and we were all ignorant to how much the condition would affect not just my sister but our entire family,” the Mullaloo resident said.
“We were so very grateful for the support from organisations such as Diabetes WA.
“It not only helped my sister cope with integrating diabetes into her life but also how we could cope as a family and support my sister the best we could.”
It may have been a life-changing diagnosis but Georgia said they always tried to see the light side of diabetes.
“We do have a laugh when the waiter always seems to come over to the table the minute she starts injecting herself at the table when we go out,” she said.
“There’s also the weird looks she gets when people see an ice pack and an insulin pen peeking out of her bag … and a never ending supply of jelly beans.
“We have always managed to see the funny side of it though and I’m always there to hand over the juice box when we’ve had a few wines and the midnight hypos hit.”
This has inspired Georgia (24) to run the half-marathon at this Sunday’s Run for a Reason to fundraise for Diabetes WA.
“My sister inspires me because she doesn’t play the victim card,” she said.
“Her attitude has always been ‘well, if everyone else can do that, so can I’.
“She inspires my running because I am grateful for the way my body functions as it should.
“I am lucky I can wake up at 6am and spontaneously go for a run if I want to.
“I can pick up my car keys and my phone instead of having to cart a million things like insulin, strips, needles, snacks, blood sugar reader etcetera with me.
“I am thankful that I don’t have to think of these things and can do things spontaneously.
“My sister does not have that luxury and as diabetes runs in families, I may not always have that luxury either so I appreciate it while I can.”
Georgia said she was “the most unfit person you could meet” just two years ago.
“I was the kid that got picked last for school sports and got told to put those long legs of mine to good use,” she said.
“I love running and the feeling it gives me more than I can put into words.
“I love the challenge it gives me, plus there are all the other benefits like helping me deal with my anxiety and helping me meet and connect with new people.”
Aside from hoping to achieve a personal best time, Georgia said she hoped to raise as much money and awareness for Diabetes WA as possible.
“People love to ask me about why I’m doing the run and I like to use it as an opportunity to talk to people about the condition,” she said.
“I am always amazed about how little people know about type 1 diabetes.”