Newly anointed Theresa May holds the distinction as being the second woman to serve as prime minister of the United Kingdom, but she’s also the first major world leader living openly with Type 1 diabetes.
May was diagnosed with just four years ago with Type 1 while she was the United Kingdom’s home secretary.
“My very first reaction was that it’s impossible because at my age you don’t get it.”
She spoke publicly about having Type 1 and the challenges she faced in an interview with the UKDaily Mail she said: “It was a real shock and, yes, it took me a while to come to terms with it,” but “the diabetes doesn’t affect how I do the job or what I do. It’s just part of life…so it’s a case of head down and getting on with it.”
May, who was 56-years-old when she was diagnosed said that she had been losing weight, drinking more liquids and feeling drowsy, but she attributed those to job stress and a recent fitness program she had started.
Doctors initially misdiagnosed her with Type 2 diabetes, which is not an uncommon diagnosis for people who develop autoimmune diabetes in adulthood. Her medical team finally narrowed her condition down to Type 1 in November 2012.
According to research only about 10 per cent of adults are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
“My very first reaction was that it’s impossible because at my age you don’t get it,” said May, in an interview with Diabetes UK in 2014.
Laura Cleverly, who writes under the alias of Ninjabetic, said that May is an inspiration and shows that Type 1 diabetics can lead lives like anyone else.
“Leaving politics aside it’s really inspiring that our new prime minister has got type 1 diabetes and is still leading the country. From a personal point of view I think that it’s something to celebrate, as it shows that you can achieve great things while having the condition.”
Cleverly added: “All long-term conditions are really important but I feel that care for type 1 diabetes is getting worse, especially in the light of the State of the Nation report, which has shown we really need a light shining on the condition right now.”