Sylvia Mare shows you can be active and have diabetes

Active and healthy: Port Macquarie's Sylvia Mare has overcome the hurdle of diabetes to lead a normal and healthy lifestyle. Photo: supplied
Active and healthy: Port Macquarie's Sylvia Mare has overcome the hurdle of diabetes to lead a normal and healthy lifestyle. Photo: supplied

Sylvia Mare competed in her first triathlon this year and has taken up cross-fit and sprinting.

On the surface, the Port Macquarie resident leads a healthy and active lifestyle.

What sets Sylvia apart from her contemporaries is that she has lived with, and some would say conquered, the restrictions of diabetes.

"I was nine years old and living in Barraba when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes," she says.

"I remember being very thirsty, using the bathroom a lot, I lost weight - about 10kg in less than a week, but the doctor didn't pick up diabetes the first time around.

"It was only after I lost even more weight that my mum took me back to the doctors. They took one look at me and sent me straight to the local hospital.

"My blood sugar level was 50. It was extraordinarily high."

Sylvia was quickly transported to Tamworth hospital where she spent the next seven days recuperating and learning about her disease.

It was here that Sylvia learnt the full extent of diabetes and starting giving herself injections.

Fast forward a few years and Sylvia took up the option of an insulin pump to replace the need for multiple needles each day.

That decision, she says, changed her life.

The insulin pump acts as a pancreas in regulating blood sugar levels.

"I've been six years with the pump and it has given me more freedom," she said. "I can do now more things and be a bit more spontaneous.

"It means I can go off on longer day trips without worrying about what medications to pack. It means I can exercise more and more consistently.

"I entered and completed my first triathlon in February this year in Newcastle. I've taken up cross-fit training and enjoy doing sprint work too," she said.

"I took on the triathlon as a personal challenge to do something like that with type 1 diabetes. I wanted to show myself and others that you can still compete at this level.

I took the triathlon as a personal challenge to do something like that with type 1 diabetes. I wanted to show myself and others that you can still compete at this level.

Sylvia Mare

"It is good to kick those goals. I am really looking forward to my next triathlon."

Sylvia is a member of Diabetes NSW & ACT and acts as an ambassador. She has a strong desire to be a positive and real role model.

National Diabetes Week is from July 8 until 14.

Jodi Kennett is a diabetic educator with JK Healthcare and says early detection of diabetes is vital. She also says people need to have more regular doctors’ visits.

"The earlier diabetes is picked up the sooner we can do something about it," she said.

"Unfortunately, the figures show that there are many people who have diabetes but it is yet to be diagnosed.

"So don't wait for the complications to set in. Be aware of the common symptoms and take some action."

Symptoms include, continually being thirsty, increase use of the bathroom and feeling tired often. Other symptoms can include loss of weight.

"At risk people or those with a family history should go to the doctor once or twice a year for a check up and particularly the blokes," Ms Kennett said.

"More regular exercise, be mindful of dietary intake in relation to fats and sugars and monitoring your weight are good ways to reduce your risk

"Type 2 diabetes can be prevented in up to 58 per cent of cases in high risk population by eating well and exercising."

A fundraising diabetes walk is on Sunday September 23. More information will be available closer to the event.

For more information go to the Diabetes NSW & ACT website.

First effort: Sylvia Mare competed in her first triathlon in February, 2018. Photo: supplied

First effort: Sylvia Mare competed in her first triathlon in February, 2018. Photo: supplied

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