My name is Jack Henderson, and I’m a thirteen year old from Melbourne. I enjoy playing volleyball and watching football; I also live with type 1 diabetes.

I’ve been living with diabetes for seven years. My condition doesn’t define me, and I won’t let other people’s opinions of my condition change the way I live. I have started to call out things that are wrong. Two years ago, I heard a radio station joking about diabetes. I never hear them joke about cancer, but they thought it was okay to tell jokes about diabetes. It was not okay. So I called the radio station to let them know how I felt. I still wasn’t taken seriously.

I also wrote to an author who had made some negative comments about diabetes in a book. The author said sorry and promised to take out the line in future prints.

Living with diabetes is not a joke. When I was diagnosed at five, I was afraid and didn’t know what was going on or why it was happening to me. My life changed that day, and I was angry and worried for a long time. I was the only kid in the Junior School who was living with diabetes, so I stood out. But the teachers helped me, so did my friends who all learnt about my condition.

It wasn’t until I was older that I understood what was going on around me, and I decided to do something about stopping the judgement. I now let people know if they make comments or jokes that are hurtful. I want them to know that I didn’t choose to have diabetes, I didn’t eat badly or not exercise, I was just unlucky. I shouldn’t have to hide when I need to do a fingerprick or needle. I used to, but not anymore.

I have also met some amazing people who have supported me. The RCH, Diabetes Australia, JDRF, The Danii Foundation and Kids Diabetes Camps have all helped me connect with others in the diabetes community. Since my diagnosis, I have taken part in the JDRF One Walk every. Year to raise funds and awareness.

I have also received a CGM, which has made treating my diabetes and monitoring my levels more manageable. My brother, Max in Prep P, is a part of the ENDIA study, which will hopefully help find the cause and a cure one day.

I hope that this National Diabetes Week encourages more of us to speak up. If you hear something that is hurtful or offensive, call it out and let people know it is not okay. Educate them. Don’t be a bystander, be an upstander and shut the comments down! We don’t want sympathy. We want support.