When Susan Huson was diagnosed with diabetes in 1967, the "good news", she remembers being told, was that people with the condition could now live up to 50 years. She was 11 years old at the time.
"I did the math and thought, 'well, I wouldn't want to live to 61 anyway.' It sounded so old. But here I am - age 61. It makes me happy to have reached 50 years living with diabetes. I love life. I have so much to live for that I need another 30 years."
Susan is among this year's recipients of St. Joseph's Health Care London's Diabetes Half Century Awards having lived well with diabetes for five decades. If she was diagnosed today, the "good news" would be very different. Susan would be told that people with diabetes are living long healthy lives – a testament to giant strides in care, knowledge and education.
The awards are presented annually by St. Joseph's and Novo Nordisk Canada Inc. Patients with insulin-dependent diabetes who reach 50 years since their diagnosis are nominated by their endocrinologist. They are honoured for their personal commitment and diligence in looking after their health, and for acting as a role model to all those living with the condition. Each recipient receives a print of London's Banting House and a special medal to commemorate their achievement.
This year, 24 individuals will receive the award, the largest group since St. Joseph's began hosting the awards 14 years ago.
"We've had to move the ceremony to a bigger location this year," says Dr. Irene Hramiak, Chief of the Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at St. Joseph's. "It has gotten larger as we have more people marking this occasion. We care for more than 1,000 type 1 diabetes patients so it is wonderful that this year 24 individuals have reached this milestone. I hope we see a growth each year, indicating that type 1 patients are enjoying better health and more life."
Read Susan's full story and that of another patient on St. Joseph's website.