A 24-year-old from Poulton is completing a One Million Step Challenge to raise awareness of Type One diabetes after her own difficulties in managing the condition.
Abbe Boardman, who was diagnosed at the age of eight, has been joined by family and friends, who are completing the 10,000 steps a day challenge to raise money for Diabetes UK and help other people with diabetes who may be struggling.
Abbe said: “I found diabetes difficult when I was younger, especially at school, when I was bullied because of a lack of understanding from other children. I was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism, a condition which is common in people with diabetes, which added to the difficulty.”
At 13 years old, Abbe developed diabulimia, an eating disorder related to diabetes where somebody deliberately omits or reduces the amount of insulin to lose weight. This is potentially dangerous and the long-term effect is high blood glucose levels which can lead to serious complications such as sight-loss and nerve damage.
Abbe added: “The prolonged lack of control over my blood glucose levels means I have developed retinopathy which affects eye sight and neuropathy which affects the nerves. Diabulimia is not yet a widely recognised disorder, but people don’t have to struggle in silence, help is out there. It’s vital anyone struggling with diabulimia gets help to avoid the problems I now have.”
After a deterioration in her health earlier this year, Abbe was diagnosed with diabetic gastroparesis, a complication of diabetes where food can’t move through the digestive system efficiently due to nerve damage. Abbe had to stay in hospital for over three months and faces further treatment.
Her fiancé Shaun is joining her for the challenge and along with their mums, will be taking it in turns to help her reach her target.
Abbe’s father Stephen, 57, and sister Laura, 25, who have supported her since she was diagnosed, and other friends and family have also taken up their own One Million Steps challenges, to help raise awareness.
The event takes place until September 30, and invites people to push themselves out of their comfort zone, by taking one million steps over three months and getting sponsored for every stride. It will take at least 10,000 steps a day to reach one million over the three month time frame.
Abbe added: “The challenge has given me a goal to work towards and splitting the steps between us makes it manageable.
“If our efforts help just one person with diabetes then I will be happy.”
Maria Whittaker, Diabetes UK North West regional fundraiser said: “We’re really grateful to Abbe, Shaun and all the team for helping to raise awareness of diabetes as well as the importance of good care for people with diabetes.
“Every penny raised will help us to support the millions of people living with the condition in the UK.”