A mum from Caerphilly whose son has Type 1 diabetes is swimming the equivalent of the English Channel to raise vital funds for Diabetes UK Cymru.
Ruth Greenaway-Robbins, 39, is taking on the swimming challenge of the year, Swim 22, between 22 February and 22 May. Her son Simeon, 16, was diagnosed in April 2017.
Ruth, a professional musician, said, “Looking back I can see how poorly Simeon was before he was diagnosed. He started to go downhill very rapidly and called me to pick him up from school. It was then that I realised how much weight he had lost. I now know that getting thinner is a common symptom of Type 1 diabetes.
“It was a very frightening time for our family. There was so much information to take in. Type 1 is a condition Simeon will have to manage every day for the rest of his life: it felt overwhelming.
“The doctors and nursing staff were amazing and really helped us to understand everything. Nothing was too much trouble. I felt much more confident that Simeon would be alright.”
Simeon, a year 11 pupil at The Bishop of Llandaff High School, is now managing his condition well and it has not stopped him from living a very active lifestyle. Last year he and his teammates at Caerphilly RFC raised more than £1,200 for Diabetes UK Cymru with a rugby tournament.
Ruth continued, “The way Simeon has coped is phenomenal. He is never embarrassed about his condition and always wants to make more people aware. He loves sport and wants to be a professional rugby referee in the future. He knows that to achieve his dream he has to look after himself.
“Taking on my own challenge with Swim22 is a way for me to give something back. I want to help fund more research into Type 1 diabetes and the technology involved, as Simeon is moving on to an insulin pump this year. I’m a busy mum so I’ll have to push myself, but Simeon is my inspiration.”
People with Type 1 diabetes don’t produce the hormone insulin, which controls the amount of glucose in the blood, so they must receive it via regular injections or via a pump. Nobody knows what causes Type 1 diabetes and it is not currently preventable. There are around 1400 children and young people and 18,900 adults living with Type 1 diabetes in Wales.
If not managed well, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can lead to devastating complications, including sight loss, amputation, kidney failure and stroke.
Joseph Cuff, Fundraising Manager, Diabetes UK Cymru said: “We are delighted that Type 1 diabetes hasn’t stopped Simeon from pursuing his sporting ambitions, and that he has inspired his mum Ruth to make a splash for Diabetes UK Cymru.
“Swim22 is perfect if you want to challenge yourself to get fitter at your own pace and in your own time. You can swim alone or, better still, get family, friends and colleagues involved. You can even split the 22 miles between a team to make it easier for everyone.”
To sponsor Ruth please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ruth-greenaway-robbins
To sign up for Swim22, go to www.diabetes.org.uk/swim22. There is no registration fee and no minimum sponsorship.