Bridget FoleyInner West, Sydney
I have always lived a healthy lifestyle and encouraged others to eat well and be active, even before I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. In high school, I played loads of sports and was motivated to do well in class, but was having difficulty staying focused during lessons. I guess most teenagers would think that is normal, but I knew something was up. I went to the doctor with my mum and he ordered some blood tests just to check things out. The next day, I remember being at school and receiving a phone call from my mum “Meet me at the front office now, we need to go back to the doctor – don’t worry, it will be okay” she said.
That day, back in 2007, I was very shocked to be diagnosed with type 1. No one in my family had a history of diabetes and I was probably the healthiest person I knew. I spent a week in hospital and although I had lots of visitors, I felt very isolated. I was probably the most unhappy I have ever been and will ever be in my life.
There was a silver lining though. While I was in hospital, thinking “why me”, I found a solution!
I decided if I did well in my HSC, I could go to uni and study ways to help other people avoid developing preventable chronic conditions – I made this my goal, as well as looking after my own diabetes well.
I am passionate about promoting health and wellbeing among young people, reducing health inequity and creating communities which make it easy for everyone to live a healthy lifestyle. I have completed my Masters of Public Health and a Bachelor degree in Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Sydney. I work in prevention research and in my spare time work on a mobile app I developed to help people be active. I also used to work as a personal trainer with kids and adults helping others have fun while being active.
Having diabetes is now just part of my life. It is tricky but shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want to do, if you are prepared. I always make sure those around me are aware I have type 1, in case anything ever goes wrong (but it doesn’t). I have been working hard to achieve what I set out to do in that hospital bed when I was 16 years old.