From Barbados to Africa: Conquering Mount Kilimanjaro for Diabetes

17 September 2013
Krystal Boyea, is our Young Leader living with diabetes in Barbados. She is also the Youth Regional Representative for the NAC Region for the IDF. This 26 year old, has devoted her life to making a difference in the lives of others living with diabetes locally in Barbados, regionally in the Caribbean Region and internationally. In keeping with this goal, Krystal just completed what she considers her most life changing and challenging feat of Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for Diabetes. Earlier this year, Krystal, along with 11 others living with Type 1 diabetes from around the world, was invited by the World Diabetes Tour Association and Sanofi Diabetes to take on this epic expedition. The countries that took part were France, Canada, the USA, Australia, Brazil, Belgium and Barbados. Upon receiving the invitation, Krystal’s immediate decision was YES! She knew that even though she had never climbed a mountain or even hiked before, she had to undertake this challenge, to show people that even with diabetes, you can do anything you put your mind to! So in preparation, Krystal trained for many months with a personal trainer and went on several short hikes in Barbados. She knew she was physically ready, but not sure how her body would react at the high altitudes having grown up on an island. However, Krystal left Barbados determined she was going to achieve what so many back home doubted. The group started their 6 night and 7 day expedition on August 30th via the Machame Route. For Krystal, days 1-5 were relatively easy. They were awoken daily at 6:30am, had hot chocolate or tea in the tent at 7:00am, breakfast at 7:30am and at 8:30am daily, they began their trek from camp to camp. For the first 5 days the group walked between 3-9 hours daily allowing the body to acclimatize to the varying altitudes. The summit night began at midnight on September 4th. This was where the journey got difficult for Krystal. This upward climb from base camp to Uhuru Peak takes 6-10 hours to complete. After approximately 1 hour, Krystal experienced low followed by high blood sugar. The difficult part, she says, was being able to test her sugars by pricking her fingers in below freezing temperatures. Immediately after getting her blood sugars back to relatively normal levels, Krystal then experienced severe altitude sickness, but refused to give up. After hiking 9 hours uphill with the assistance of two guides and a doctor, Krystal made it to the summit 5895 meters above sea level.
Krystal on top of Kilimanjaro
Krystal has been forever changed by this experience. She says, “The feeling of overcoming such difficultly and reaching my goal…I have no words to explain how that feels. Upon reaching the top I collapsed into the doctors arms in tears. I had finally done it! I had proven to myself and to those around the world that having diabetes doesn’t hold you back. That ANYTHING is possible with determination and hard work!” Please visit Krystal's blog for more detailed information on her trip.
Geo location: 
POINT (37.35067 -3.06646)