Today I attended the Victorian Kellion Victory Medal Award Ceremony. There before me, sixty-six people were awarded medals for having lived with diabetes for 50, 60, 70 and 75 years.

I write about this event every year, and each year, I write about how much hope and inspiration I feel while sitting in the room.

Because it’s true. I walk away from the Kellion awards full to the brim and amazed at what these people have achieved. I’m never sure if it is despite or because of their lives with diabetes that I feel this way. But, undeniably, it is a special day.

Frequently the stories are the same – a shock diagnosis, sometimes a misdiagnosis. Many are unable to pursue their chosen career, especially in days where teaching or nursing were not possible vocations for people with type 1 diabetes. Many spent a lot of time in hospital as they adapted to their post-diabetes-diagnosis life. And many reminisce about injecting into an orange, which apparently was the done thing for a newly diagnosed person 75 years just as it was 18 years ago when I was diagnosed – and still today!

And they share tales of brutal management instruments and tools that in equal measure terrify me and make me glad of the time I was diagnosed.

The hope exists for me because when I look around the room, and I listen to the stories and I speak directly to the recipients and their families as they proudly hold on to their well- earned medals I don’t see diabetes. I see people.

They don’t all claim that diabetes has been fun or that it has been a breeze. In fact, some of them are really open about just how tough it has made their life. But even those who say they have really struggled, still do not believe diabetes has been the single most defining aspect of their life.

I’ve always said that I wish all newly diagnosed people could meet a Kellion medal so they can see that everything will be okay. But I think that was a little naïve of me and actually undermines just what it has taken for these people to be standing there in front of us, accepting their medal. And it also suggests that diabetes hasn’t actually had some sort of impact on their lives.

These are ordinary lives made extraordinary by diabetes. And while their achievements are not there for my benefit, I am so glad that I get to hear their stories.

Source - @DiabetesVic

Source – @DiabetesVic

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