When Maitry Pancholi reached the summit of 2,080 metres of Mount Gingilos in Greece, she felt a deep satisfaction. She had finally proven there was nothing that could stop her, not even the challenging condition of Type 1 diabetes. The 20-year-old from Ahmedabad was the only Indian to be part of the international team of 11 teens and young adults who had participated in ‘Type 1 Diabetes Youth Challenge—White Mountains, Crete’ organised by Sanofi Diabetes in partnership with SWEET and World Diabetes Tour. The trek aimed to inspire young people living with Type 1 diabetes to strive for better control of their condition and dare to dream.
Pancholi, along with 11 other participants aged between 15 to 20 years from Brazil, Canada, India and eight other European countries, trekked from August 25 to 28 through the famous Samaria Gorge, one of the longest gorges in Europe, to reach the summit of Mount Gingilos in White Mountains in Crete, Greece. “When I was selected, I was very happy but also intimidated by the challenge since it involved going to a new country and meeting so many new people. However, meeting fellow diabetics and learning about their individual achievements was inspiring,” says Pancholi. The M. Com student was nominated by her diabetologist, Dr Banshi Saboo, founder of Dia Care, Ahmedabad as she had a good control over her blood sugar. “When she first came to me, she and her family were completely shattered by the diagnosis. Being a single parent, it was initially very difficult for her mother and she had lost all hope. But the family has really stood together and today, Maitry is managing her diabetes well,” he says.
Pancholi hopes her efforts inspire other youngsters with Type 1 diabetes to view their condition in positive light. Even though one out of five children with Type 1 diabetes live in India, there is poor awareness among patients to control it well. While affecting their physical and emotional well being, poorly managed diabetes can result in hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar). There is also a long term impact on vital organs which require constant monitoring and control.
When Pancholi was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 12, she was afraid of taking frequent injections. After counselling, however, she understood the importance of insulin shots and monitoring her blood glucose levels. She takes insulin shots four times a day and eats a healthy diet. “Thanks to my diabetes, I started living a disciplined lifestyle. I ensure that I eat healthy all the time and exercise daily,” she says. After she was selected for the challenge, the she trained by cycling, walking and working out in the gym every day.
One of Pancholi’s concerns was how she could manage to find vegetarian options when she travelled but to her relief, the organisers always ensured she had vegetarian food and energy bars at her disposal. In spite of the training, the actual trek was arduous coupled with managing their sugar levels. “After four days of trekking for more than six hours, when we had to summit Mount Gingilos, it was really tough climbing in the hot sun,” says Pancholi. After completing her challenge, Pancholi wishes to become a Type 1 diabetes educator to spread awareness about the condition and inspire others to reach out to their dreams.