Diabetes: Stay in charge

can-do attitude sets james apart
can-do attitude sets james apart

The 12-year-old Sea Scouts member, State taekwondo champion, piano and guitar enthusiast encouraged those with the genetic condition to look past any preconceived limitations and continue to try new things.

His advice is for people to tailor their treatment to their lifestyle and not the other way around.

Rebecca Johnson from the Telethon Juvenile Diabetes Family Centre in Osborne Park said James’ attitude to type 1 diabetes exemplified what the new centre promotes. ‘There is no one-size-fits-all with type 1 diabetes, it’s very much around finding an approach and a strategy that fits you and your lifestyle,’ Ms Johnson said.

‘In order to do that people need to build confidence in dosing requirements and things they can do in terms of physical activity.

‘They need to do some experiments, ask lots of questions and inform themselves. It’s only that process that will slowly build up a picture of what your body will do and react in certain situations.’

James’ mother Helen said she had always been impressed by her son’s attitude towards type 1 diabetes.

‘I’ve never encountered any thought or any comment saying ‘no I won’t go, I won’t do that because it will be too difficult’,’ Ms Fernihough said.

He continued to pursue his dreams of being involved in the aviation industry, she added.

‘He’s always wanted to be a jet fighter pilot, he’s always dreamed of that, he said.

‘But when he was diagnosed with the condition, that meant he couldn’t become a pilot which shook him a little bit .

‘Now he says he wants to be an aeronautical engineer so he can build and design planes instead. He’s had to modify his dreams a little bit.’

The mother of three said James was always supported by his two sisters Michelle (10) and Louise (9).

‘I think it’s absolutely critical for any family that has siblings. They can play such a positive role in partnering with the diabetic sibling.

‘Michelle for instance, she looks out for James. She will come and tell me when he acts a bit weirdly to let me know to check him if he’s going low,’ she said.

‘They won’t eat unhealthy foods because James doesn’t, so it actually promotes a healthy lifestyle for other siblings as well.’