World Diabetes Day: The Turner family


Published: 14th November 2017

Earlier this year in May Ruth Turner, Medical Education, Research and Development Manager, took part in the Sunderland 10K with daughter Rebecca, completing the challenge in an impressive 1:07:02. Ruth was fundraising for City Hospitals Sunderland Charity's special fund for supporting patients with diabetes.

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Ruth (far right) with daughter Rebecca (second from right) before the Sunderland 10K 2017.

Ruth was inspired to get involved after her son Martyn was diagnosed at 24 with Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune condition, not a result of diet or lifestyle choices. The immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreas which affects the bodies insulin production, which in turn stops sugar being transported to cells. Around 16,000 people have diabetes across Sunderland - 10% of those have type 1 like Martyn.

Ruth's main inspiration for taking on a challenge to support those with diabetes with Martyn himself: "He accepted the condition from day one and never really looked for sympathy – preferring to simply make the insulin regime part of his life. That being said, Martyn did have times when denial crept in and Im sure times when he though “why me?”. But, Martyn and me soon became experts on diabetes and he found ways of dealing with it that suited him."

With Martyn's determination, Ruth and her family have found ways to support her son - she hopes the £415 she raised helps other families who find themselves in a similar situation.

"It also made me think – younger people than Martyn develop diabetes and I truly felt for those families and the uncertainty that comes with the diagnosis. I thought how good it would be to somehow help them through things by raising money that could be used to support them."

Martyn has received his care from the diabetes team based at Sunderland Royal Hospital, from his diagnosis through to his management of the condition today. Ruth said on his behalf: "The service has been amazingly supportive of Martyn. This has ranged from the flexibility they have shown him for follow up appointments to meeting with him and his future wife to explain the potential implications for them in the future. They have supported him in his move from one type of regime to another more flexible one – moving at his pace and have been excellent at explaining things and being available whenever Martyn has needed advice."

Ruth's support in honour of the care Martyn received is now helping other men and women with diabetes in Sunderland. Dr Rahul Nayar, Consultant Diabetologist, said:

"We really can't thank Ruth and others like her enough for the extra support they make possible. For a start we have been able to purchase extra equipment for our unit that wouldn't be available otherwise - we've also been able to send our team on additional training so that we can continue offering our patients the very best care we can.

"In the near future, we hope to use the kind donations to our fund for continuous glucose monitors, which could be a huge help to some of our patients."

What would Ruth's advice be to other families with a diabetic relative?

"Don’t worry – diabetes can fit in with you not the other way round if you listen to the experts and gain as much knowledge as you can. Also, take one day at a time to start with, read up as much as you can and ask questions. The positive side is that your health will be checked far more than anyone without the condition not just for diabetes but other conditions – so with good management and support your life will be just as good as anyone without diabetes."

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Proud mum Ruth and son Martyn out and about training.

If you're interested in helping the 16,000 men and women in Sunderland with diabetes, you can get involved by donating or fundraising. Contact Andy Pestell at Andrew.pestell@chsft.nhs.uk about fundraising or follow the link below to donate.

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