A few months ago encouraged by my boss I entered the 2017 Cannon Media Awards. The awards are described as ‘New Zealand publishing’s premier awards. Showcasing and acknowledging the best of NZ newspapers, magazines and websites.’ I’ve been writing for the Diabetes Wellness magazine for 15 months, did this put me in the same league as some of the big hitters from The Dominion Post, Stuff and The Herald? I guess I would find out…
I entered the senior (over 25 years) nib health insurance journalism scholarship category. The winner would receive up to $6,000 from nib health funds Ltd to cover costs to research and/or write a health related article. What could I write about?
I thought about the challenges type 1 diabetics and their families face and how I could use this opportunity to not only share their stories, but to make a difference. I had to do this! Even if I didn’t get any further than the application process, I had nothing to lose.
My health related article proposal:
Living with and managing type 1 diabetes is relentless, there are no days off! For 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, type 1 diabetics are having to make life or death decisions based on their blood sugar levels, the food they eat, their activity levels and how they feel. Imagine having to make these decisions for your child, knowing that if you get it wrong the consequences could be dire. It takes a village to raise a child. Unfortunately due to the high demands of caring for a type 1 diabetic, many parents choose to bear all responsibility for raising their child/children. This often leaves little time or energy for themselves, their health, well-being, and/or their relationships. It's no wonder that many parents of type 1 diabetics can feel overwhelmed by the all-consuming task of managing their child's diabetes. I want to share their stories.
There has been exciting advancement in diabetes technology. Unfortunately it is either not available in New Zealand or not funded, making it unaffordable and unattainable for most kiwis.
I plan to investigate how new diabetes technology (Freestyle Libre and Dexcom G5 CGMS) can make managing a child's diabetes easier for parents and how this can benefit the entire family.
I will work with local DHBs and Diabetes NZ to identify four families to participate. Criteria:
Both parents working
Two or more children
One child living with type 1 diabetes for a minimum of 18 months aged between 7-9 years old
Using either daily injections or an insulin pump to manage their diabetes.
Each child will be given either a Freestyle Libre or a Dexcom G5 CGMS to trial for a two month period. Their parents will document the child’s progress and the changes the family are experiencing.
Freestyle Libre - the new technology designed to monitor glucose levels without finger pricks. (Not currently available in New Zealand.)
Dexcom G5 CGMS - 'provides dynamic glucose information by showing where your glucose is, where it's going, and how fast it's getting there. It can also eliminate the need for confirmatory finger pricks, for daily glucose management decisions.’ (Available in New Zealand but not funded by Pharmac.)
I will interview the four families at various stages throughout the study. Investigating the following themes:
The challenges of managing type 1 diabetes for someone else
Life before diabetes
How has diabetes changed you, your family and your relationship?
Support available for parents of type 1 diabetics
New technology and funding.
Further research (not included in this proposal): If the research confirms this technology has positive outcomes for the entire family I will investigate how to make it accessible for Type 1 diabetics living in New Zealand E.g. government funding, crowd sourcing and/or social enterprise opportunities.
Every entry was reviewed and scrutinised by a panel of judges. On April 4th the finalists were named. I scrolled through the list mentally prepared for rejection. I knew I’d be up against stiff competition. There it was, my name. I was a senior nib health journalism scholarship finalist. I was ecstatic! The finalists are:
Dylan Cleaver, NZ Herald
Kirsty Johnston, NZ Herald
Aaron Leaman, Stuff and Waikato times
Ruby McGill, Diabetes magazine
Virgina McMillan, New Zealand Doctor
Annemarie Quill, Bay of Plenty times
The winner will be announced at the gala dinner on Friday, May 19 at the Langham in Auckland. My husband and I began preparing for a trip to the big smoke. We locked in a babysitter, organised flights and dry-cleaning, I chose a dress from my grand choice of two in the wardrobe and splashed-out on new earrings.
You can imagine my excitement when I received the following email weeks later.
“A second senior nib health journalism scholarship worth $6,000, will be awarded to a journalist at the Cannon Media awards this month. The Judges were so impressed by the calibre of the senior applicants that they asked if a second award could be made, and nib have generously agreed.”
My husband and I had joked that I was only named a finalist to make up the numbers, however they thought we were good, really good. WOW! I was so grateful, blown away and excited that I cried.
This Friday with my number one diabetes supporter by my side (the husband) and my boss Steve Crew, CEO of Diabetes NZ and his partner, we’ll celebrate the best of NZ’s newspapers, magazines, websites and journalists. What an honour!
Come and share the night with us over on Instagram @mastering_diabetes and the moment when the two winners of the senior nib health journalism scholarship are announced. I’ll keep you posted. Fingers crossed.