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A Tête à Tête with T1D_Leonor

Bienvenue en France les amis… where an outstanding diabetes advocate lives, Leonor Marchand. Leonor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in her early-mid 20s, yet, despite the unexpected bombshell to adapt an entire way of life to, she has gone on to run the New York City marathon, trek in the Costa Rican rainforest, and had founded the first peer connected support organisation of its kind, Type 1 Family Solidarite. Here, we connect with Leonor to hear more on Type 1 diabetes in France and the great work of her budding organisation.

Can you share about Type 1 Family and what it aims to achieve?

Leonor: “Type 1 Family is a community and non-profit organisation that I created in 2018. Our goal is to make people feel that they are not alone. It's a peer-to-peer support. It is a little bit like running: you can go run alone, but it's easier and nicer if you go with friends. And it's crucial to be with friends to go through difficulties or run for a very long time. We see diabetes the same: you can do diabetes alone. It does not mean you should. Friends will make your life easier, sharing experiences will help you manage any situation, and being able to share will help you go through difficult times and prevent burn out. Talking to someone who can understand is life-changing.”

In founding Type 1 Family, what did you see as a needed platform in France to go forward and set this up?

“I realised that we were very lucky in France with healthcare, with our access to medical care and devices. However, I think we are missing psychological support. There were some very important associations for people with diabetes, but more oriented to type 2 or to children with type 1. I wanted to create an association that shared positive, inspiring messages in a non-medical context.”

Did social media play a role in helping you come to terms with diagnosis? - and would it be a benefit to find out more about the online community from the moment of diagnosis?

“I learnt a lot during the first year with diabetes online. I read most of what I learned on associations websites, or on Instagram pages from people living with diabetes. It also helped me to share my own experience and thoughts. It was like a diary but with support from other people who could actually understand what I was going through. Yes, I think that hospitals and doctors should encourage their patients to discover our Diabetes Online Community. Care givers cannot be with us all the time or know every specificity of each activity with diabetes, people living with it and reachable online can.”

Type 1 Family has hosted a number of informative but sociable events. What would you say has been effective and clicked when you have made these events and brought peers together?

"Our events are successful because they offer a place to meet and talk with other people with diabetes. What has clicked is definitely the positive, inspiring, empowering messages we share. We meet in really cool places and it is like a social gathering, with nothing dramatic. We use unconventional ways of educating people. We offer an entertaining experience with serious information but a sexy way of delivering it : inspiring conferences, trendy co-working places or bars, beautiful and desirable communication. I also think it works well because we give a sense of belonging to an amazing community. One that is caring, funny, modern, and authentic. The real joy comes from all the people coming to the event. They are the ones who make Type 1 Family a second family.”

How does the health system work in France in regards to diabetes supplies and accessibility?

“We are very lucky. When you're diagnosed with type 1 you get all your supplies and doctors appointments covered by the healthcare system. However, the healthcare system only covers some devices. Most people don't even know about other alternatives that exist. Also, there is no mental health support, which I think is crucial when living with a chronic condition.”

If diabetes could be represented by a cartoon, which character would it be and why???

"It would be "Woody Woodpecker," always knocking, never stopping ! Or Jerry the mouse in Tom & Jerry; a love hate relationship, a very small mouse that can be really annoying like in this video You should not fight it but better really to be friends with it if you want your life to be better!”

Diaview shared February 2023.

Diaview’s are interviews sharing personal experiences and holistic projects connected to type 1 diabetes. Content may be associated to an individual’s opinion or response to their personalised diabetes care; for any medical decisions, always feel welcome to ask questions but please consult your healthcare team for clarification or final decisions you may look to make regarding your personal management.


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