Climbing new heights to raise diabetes awareness

St John Fisher College, Bracken Ridge

​Teacher Michele Tillack climbed the story bridge to highlight Diabetes Awareness Week

UNDER the hue of a full moon, teacher Michele Tillack climbed the increasingly steeper steps.

As she stopped to catch her breath her hand touched the cold steel handrail of Brisbane’s Story Bridge and she gazed out over the ever-changing skyline.

“What a perfect backdrop, with the bridge structure illuminated in blue, to highlight diabetes awareness,” she thought to herself.

The St John Fisher College, Bracken Ridge, teacher has lived with Type 1 diabetes for 21 years.

She was among 80 other Type 1 diabetics selected for a twilight climb of the iconic bridge to mark Diabetes Awareness Week.

Michele said having diabetes meant there were always bridges to climb every day, but this time it was a real bridge, not a figurative one. 

“I was honoured and excited to be a part of the experience,” Michelle said.

“The bridge climb demonstrates that diabetics, with careful and constant self-management, can participate fully in life,” she said.

In Australia, there are about 1.7 million diabetics with approximately 10 per cent of those having the autoimmune, Type 1.

Michele said it was her wish for the government to extend their subsidy for Constant Glucose Monitors (CGMs) for all Type 1 diabetics and not limit it to those under 21 years of age and those with valid concessional status and high clinical needs.

“At $349 per month, CGMs are prohibitive to many, even though CGMs have been clinically proven to provide better health outcomes regarding morbidity and mortality for Type 1s.

“Private health insurance does not cover this either and it is my hope that by raising awareness, the government will take action to allow greater access to this fantastic technology.

“I think what people need to understand is having diabetes required continual daily management with no vacations from what can be a very tolling disease.

“It is my hope that by raising awareness, the public and government will take proper action,” she said.

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