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Monday, 22 September 2014

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Cumbrian diabetic of 50 years backs more research campaign

A diabetic woman who has been living with the illness for almost 50 years is backing calls for more research.

Jean Postlethwaite photo
Jean Postlethwaite

Jean Postlethwaite, 70, of Little Corby, near Carlisle, developed type one diabetes when she was 21 – and was told there would probably be a cure within 10 years.

But almost 50 years on, the great grandmother is still waiting for a breakthrough that will stop her needing daily insulin injections.

She is now backing a Carlisle family’s campaign for more research into the life-threatening condition.

The parents of Django Bennett-Clarke, a four-year-old boy from Armathwaite who was recently diagnosed with diabetes, are going to London to lobby MPs for more investment in key research.

After reading his story, Jean is adding her support to the campaign before the national delegation to Parliament on Wednesday next week.

Jean, who has two children, lost two babies in the 1960s because of the lack of knowledge about treating pregnant women with diabetes.

She added: “It was around my 21st birthday that I developed German measles which triggered off type one diabetes. In those days it was quite a rare thing. We only knew one other person in Carlisle who had it and he was elderly. You were put on a strict diet and all the talk was about gangrene – it was all quite scary. I had to inject myself with insulin – we had big thick needles and glass syringes you had to boil after every use.

“In that sense things have come on a lot but they still haven’t found a cure. I’d like to see more research so one can be developed to help youngsters like Django.”

Jean also wants more focus on type one diabetes, which develops when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin, making sufferers dependent on daily insulin injections.

Type two diabetes usually develops later in life, largely because of lifestyle factors such as obesity.

“There is a big emphasis on type two at the moment and people don’t realise there’s a difference. We are not forgotten exactly but feel pushed out,” said Jean, who has raised a lot of money for Diabetes UK over the years.

However Jean also offered some reassurance to Django’s parents, Victoria and Adam.

“When someone is diagnosed it is quite daunting,” she said. “You get told all the things that can go wrong, but that will gradually fade into the background. This little boy will grow up learning to do his own injections and will adapt. I would say don’t let diabetes rule your life – let your life rule your diabetes.”

Type One Parliament, the April 25 lobbying campaign, is the first such event of its kind to be organised by parent-led pressure group Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF).

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