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Can you imagine living with diabetes for 80 years?

When Anna Moresby was diagnosed with diabetes (type 1) as a four-year-old in wartime, her family were told she would not live to see her 30th birthday. Yet Anna has recently commemorated 80 years living with diabetes, making her one of Australia’s longest-living survivors.

When Anna Moresby was diagnosed with diabetes (type 1) as a four-year-old in wartime, her family were told she would not live to see her 30th birthday. Yet Anna has recently commemorated 80 years living with diabetes, making her one of Australia’s longest-living survivors.

In recognition of Anna’s remarkable achievement and determination, Diabetes Victoria has launched a campaign with the theme ‘80 reasons to celebrate’ for National Diabetes Week 2020 (12-18 July).

“They said that diabetics don’t live long, that they don’t have a chance,” said Anna. “You’ve gotta fight to find the right people to help you and give you the support.”

The campaign also celebrates the lives and stories of 44 other Victorians who have lived with diabetes for 50+ years and are recipients of the Australian Kellion Victory MedalThe medal takes its name from Mr Claude Kellion AM, a Sydney businessman who established a foundation to promote diabetes research after his son died, aged 38, from diabetes-related complications.

“We can learn a lot from Anna – from her courage, her resilience and her determination,” said CEO of Diabetes Victoria, Craig Bennett. “Diagnosed during wartime with food and insulin strictly rationed, when doctors knew little about the condition and medical treatments were [limited]… Anna has overcome many obstacles in her long life with diabetes.”

Some 100 years ago, type 1 diabetes was, more or less, a death sentence. Half of the people who developed the condition died within two years and more than 90% were dead within five years [1].

Thanks to numerous advances since then, such as insulin therapy introduced in the 1920s, the long-term outlook for those with type 1 diabetes has dramatically improved [2]. But even today, there is still no cure for type 1 diabetes.

Despite the obstacles, Anna’s message is one of empowerment: “The most important thing is to learn as much as you can about diabetes… don’t let the diabetes rule you. Gradually learn that you can take charge.”        

About diabetes in Victoria

Diabetes is a serious, lifelong health condition which requires attention and careful management. In Victoria, there are currently more than 346,000 people diagnosed with diabetes and an estimated 125,000 Victorians living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. If diabetes isn’t managed carefully, it can lead to an array of serious health complications; including kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, vision loss and amputations.

Source: Diabetes Victoria

[1] Source: Harvard Health Publications

[2] An Australian study found that diabetes results in a modest reduction in life expectancy (3.1 years for women and 3.2 years for men) and a substantial reduction in disability‐free life expectancy (9.1 years for women, 8.2 years for men) in Australian adults. Source: Huo L et al. (2016). Burden of diabetes in Australia: life expectancy and disability‐free life expectancy in adults with diabetes. Diabetologia, July 2016, Volume 59, Issue 7, pp1437‐1445.