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Game. Set Change. Match... Cam

#Diaview with Cameron Wood.

Cameron is from Hull and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 2. He now works full-time as a tennis coach in Sheffield, having graduated with a 1st class honours degree from Sheffield Hallam University. Involving physical activity in his day-to-day life has always been a natural interest to Cam, as he shares a passion and deep interest in all sports – the only questionable part of his sporting interests being his love for Arsenal FC! “It’s a good year for me at the moment,” he gleefully exchanges. Tennis, clearly, is his bigger hobby, where he also played competitively throughout his childhood at regional level.

How did diagnosis initially impact you / your family in the early years, and what would you say were the biggest hurdles to adjust to?

Cam: “in being diagnosed at the age of 2 there are not any memories that I have of life before diabetes. The close family being my Mum, Dad and Sister, were the people most impacted by the diagnosis. As a family my parents had to try and impose very rigid mealtimes. My blood sugar levels where very unstable, and it was a stressful time to try and mange the number of lows (hypos) and highs I was experiencing. My Mum identified that the most difficult thing was trying to make sure I would eat 30 minutes after my insulin injection otherwise I would have a hypo.”

As a keen tennis player, what typically occurs with your blood sugar levels in a match - and what tips can you give to help keep a balance and play your game?

“Typically, in a tennis match, my blood sugar levels would drop and if I didn’t take any actions or apply any strategies then I would end up having low blood sugar levels (hypos). There have been several different strategies I have used over the years to help keep my levels balanced while playing. The first thing would be making sure my meals and food is planned, starting day before I play a match. The most important meal I found was the evening meal on the night before the day of my match. I would specifically try and have food and meals which consisted of only slow-release carbs – Wholemeal (Bread, Rolls and Pasta). Working with and speaking to a dietician was also very beneficial as we could discuss what worked well but they could also provide alternative meals and supplements to help control my sugar levels. If I ever experienced a low blood sugar level (hypo) I would always treat this with Lucozade Original as I have found this is the best treatment to get my levels back up most efficiently. When I was younger, I would always snack on Hovis Biscuits as well.”

As a coach and also a tennis player, you are using an insulin pump. Where do you prefer to place your set, and are there any pump related tips you have to share when it comes to wearing / removing it and getting the best out of it when active?

“I have been using an insulin pump since the age of 8. Having always been very active and sporty I found over the years certain sites to insert my pump for it to be most effective. I also wear a sensor all the time as well as my pump so I always have 2 infusion sites on me at all times. I only have 2 different sites that I use for my pump and site I use for my sensor. For my pump I rotate between the leg (Middle/Upper Thigh) and my Buttocks. Over the years I have tried to use my abdomen. However, my site did not always work when I inserted it here and there was a high risk it would fall out with the amount of exercise I would be doing. For my sensor I have always inserted it only into my buttock. I am 21 years of age and I still use this site today. I am are that they recommend stop using this site at the age of around 17 but I decided to stick with this site as it was comfortable and also worked very effectively for me.”

If we could give you license to reflect back on your diabetes journey, what would be a moment you would say you are most proud about on this journey?

“The main thing I am most proud about is I have never let my Diabetes stop me doing anything! I have played tennis to a very high level, represented my school at sport whilst also winning best sportsman of my year more than once in my secondary school. I went on a skiing trip by myself with school and went on a sports tour to Sri Lanka at the age of 14 without either of my parents. My first ever trip away on my own without my family was a PGL trip in year 6 when I was 11 which was my first time properly staying away on my own. Outside of my sporting achievements I am very proud of my academic achievements with having 12 GCSEs, 3 A levels and a 1st Class Honours Degree at University.

On a personal level, I am pleased to be on the pump and sensor I have today being the Medtronic 780G along with the Guardian 4 Sensor which I personally requested for from the Sheffield Medical team and I spent many hours researching what I felt was the best treatment out there for me.

I would not have been able to achieve any of these alone. The mentality both my parents and I have taken is to always tackle diabetes as a team. This included my parents, sister, wider family, my school, University and medical teams. It is important to note you are never alone!”

If diabetes in your life could be represented as a cartoon character, what one would it be, and why?!

“Casper – Friendly Ghost.

This is because I always got on my life everyday trying to either ignore or pretend, I didn’t have diabetes. This may not have always been the best of approaches, but it meant I was able to live life, enjoy it and never let my diabetes hold me back.”

What would you like to share to encourage other Type 1s in their journey?

“My messages to share to other T1Ds: never let it stop you doing anything, remember you are not alone. You always have a team around you…

- Family

- Friends

- Hospital/Medical Teams

Plan ahead be prepared for things to go wrong as unfortunately diabetes is never predictable.

Take advice from others whether its medical teams hospital staff, or other people with diabetes.

Despite having a supportive team around you, take responsibility for your care, be proactive with chasing up medical appointments or any issues that you feel you need to tackle.

My final message is just don’t let it define you. I have never been known as “the diabetic”. This is your life Diabetes comes with you, don’t let the diabetes lead you.”

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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