For most young people, being diagnosed with a life-long, debilitating condition would cause a bit of a downward spiral but not so for Ellie Channer, age 16 from Sheffield.
Ellie was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) on April 15th 2016 and although it has had many negative effects on Ellie’s life, it also has had many positive ones too as she explains: “My diagnosis at the age of 15 had a huge impact on my life. Even down to little things like leaving my house to drive somewhere. I can’t just walk out of the door, I have to ensure that I do all the correct procedures and have my medications with me to keep me safe. I also seem to be a lot more tired than I used to be which is hard when I’m studying for exams. But even though it has impacted me negatively, there are also a lot of positives too and it has made me extremely grateful and appreciate what I do have.”
Type 1 Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar (glucose) level to become too high. The hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas, is responsible for controlling the amount of glucose in the blood but for T1D sufferers, the pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin meaning that the blood sugars can become dangerously high.
Left untreated, the complications can range from heart disease to stokes to kidney failure but with today’s modern medicines, those affected, with careful monitoring, can live perfectly heathy lives.
After her diagnosis and the care she received from the NHS, she was determined to give something back. “I originally started fundraising because I was just so grateful for all the help and support I was given from all the doctors and nurses in Sheffield’s hospital and the diabetes staff,” says Ellie. “I felt just saying thank you wasn’t enough so I started fundraising to help others.”
So far, Ellie has raised nearly £5,000 and in November this year, she has a Christmas party booked at the Mecure Hotel where she will have to cater for 150 people and raise a further £5,000.
Although Ellie’s diabetes does make her tired, she has not allowed it to interfere with her life and has carried on attending part-time theatre school Razzamataz Sheffield where she has been a student for three years. “I love Razzamataz more every time I go,” explains Ellie. “With stress from school and my diabetes, Razzamataz is my place to relax and do the thing that I love the most with my best friends. All the teachers have really built my confidence tremendously and the opportunities are endless.”
One of these includes the chance to perform on the stage of Her Majesty’s Theatre in London’s West End last November. “When I was first diagnosed, I never thought in a million years I could have done something like be involved with the show at Her Majesty’s,” says Ellie. “During rehearsals, I did find it very tiring and my bloods were going up and down but the teachers and my Principal at Razzamataz got me through it.”
“We are all incredibly proud of what Ellie has achieved,” says Helen Bell, Principal of Razzamataz Sheffield. “She is so giving and always wants to help others. Her dedication to this cause is really inspiring and she truly is a shining example of having a positive mental attitude.”
The T1D charity, JDRF, is also very close to the hearts of everyone at Razzamataz because in January this year, the two-year old son of Denise Hutton-Gosney, MD and Founder of Razzamataz, developed the condition. “It has been an incredibly difficult time for our whole family, it's also been a frustrating time as unless you know this illness it's easy to assume it's 'easy' to manage, which it really isn't especially for a two-year old,” says Denise. “By the time my son Lewis is 18, he will have had around 18,000 injections.
“On a personal level, I’m very thankful to people like Ellie who has shown such courage. Professionally, I’m so proud that Razzamataz are so proactive at supporting students with additional support needs. Throughout our schools across the UK, we include students with a variety of needs and work very hard with parents, guardians and carers to ensure we make adequate and reasonable adjustments to allow every child to take part. We believe that performing arts enriches everyone’s lives and we do everything we can to include every child.”
To find out how to support Ellie in any of her fundraising efforts for T1D, please contact her Principal Helen Bell on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07979189177/0114 3030 455.