Supporting loved ones this World Diabetes Day


Bupa's Dr Dwayne Crombie, Managing Director Health Insurance and Cindy Shay, Director of Health Partnerships share their stories on living with diabetes and the habits they have had to change.

In 1991, the International Diabetes Federation alongside the World Health Organization created World Diabetes Day in response to growing concerns about health threats posed by diabetes.

World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day in 2006 and is marked every year on 14 November, the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin along with Charles Best in 1922.

‘The Family and Diabetes’ is the theme of this year’s World Diabetes Day.

Everyone can play a role in the prevention of diabetes by role modeling healthy habits to children and supporting and encouraging our partners, parents and siblings to live a healthy lifestyle.

Dr Dwayne Crombie, Managing Director Health Insurance has been living with type 2 diabetes for the past eight years.

Dwayne explains that having diabetes he and his family have changed some simple habits including the food they eat and buy.

“‘We often go to a market on a weekend to buy fresh vegetables,” said Dr Crombie.

To discover which food he had a bad reaction to, Dwayne also wore a glucose monitor.

“Having instant feedback is powerful and makes you more likely to change behaviour.

“I can’t eat normal white rice and white bread but luckily I don’t react as badly to ice cream! Sue (my wife) and I have seen a dramatic reduction of starchy things in our diet,” says Dr Crombie.

Exercise makes a huge difference to Dwayne’s blood glucose levels for the 24 hours after intense exercise.


Dr Dwayne Crombie, Managing Director, Bupa Health Insurance
My son and wife know about the food I can’t eat and the need for exercise; there’s an acceptance that I need to do these things. They are incredibly supportive and feel guilty if they try to tempt me to do the wrong thing
Dr Dwayne Crombie, Managing Director, Bupa Health Insurance

Supporting loved ones

If you have a family member or loved one with diabetes you can play an important role in the management of their condition. Here are some ways you may be able to support them.

Understand what diabetes is.

Be supportive and get involved in helping them manage it e.g. offer to attend health appointments with them and learn about any medications they take.

Prepare and eat healthy meals together and avoid having foods/drinks around them that they are trying to minimise e.g. take away or sugary drinks.

Exercise together and encourage and support them to incorporate regular exercise into their week e.g. offer to cook dinner or do other chores to help free up some time in their day for exercise.

Cindy Shay, Director of Health Partnerships, has been living with type 1 diabetes for 12 years. Cindy shares that having type 1 diabetes has changed her routine by monitoring it everyday.

It takes management on a day-to-day basis. But rather than have it dominate our lives we try to make it just part of the routine – it’s like brushing your teeth on a regular basis; you just get on with it. Using an insulin pump has provided greater freedom in the management of my diabetes
Cindy Shay, Bupa Director of Health Partnerships and Innovation

“Having become a type 1 diabetic as an adult the familial relationships are different. One thing that became apparent is that as treatment and understanding of type 1 diabetes has evolved, the community’s expectations have not.

"The discussion is about sugar rather than carbohydrates that convert to sugars. As the only diabetic in my family we have focussed on practical matters e.g. each house of my immediate family members has sharps containers, spare insulin and change sets for my insulin pump,” said Ms Shay.

When asked about the role that her family play in the management, care and prevention of diabetes, Cindy said, “As an adult with type 1 diabetes their role is really a watching brief. Prevention doesn’t play a role with type 1. The big education role is the difference between type 1 and type 2,”

Having type 1 diabetes hasn’t restricted Cindy in living her best life. She has travelled to every continent, including Antarctica!

“It just takes some planning – I had to work out at what temperature does insulin freeze and a battery stop working!”

Did you know?

Around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes. That’s well over 6 percent of the total population. This includes all types of diagnosed diabetes (1.2 million known and registered) as well as silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes (up to 500,000 estimated).

More than 6 percent of the total population has diabetes in New Zealand too. It is estimated that the number of New Zealanders diagnosed with diabetes exceeds 200,000 people (predominantly type 2 diabetes). There are also about 100,000 people who have diabetes but have not yet had it diagnosed.

For every person diagnosed with diabetes there is usually a family member or carer who also ‘lives with diabetes’ every day in a support role. This means that an estimated 2.4 million Australians and 400,000 New Zealanders are affected by diabetes every day.