Hi! I'm Piseth from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I was diagnosed with diabetes two years after my high school graduation at the age of 19. I still remember that the birth day of my diabetes was on 20th September 2010. It happened while I was just starting my professional life. It was hard to focus on both my work and studying during that time. My work suffered and I could not concentrate on it for almost one month, and my grades unexpectedly dropped dramatically. However, it is not really an obstacle in my life. Currently, I am a Business Graduate and enjoy working in a company.
Being a person with diabetes was really a big challenge at the beginning. I was banned by my family from joining in on school trips as well as from working far away from home. As there are not many people with type 1 diabetes in Cambodia, not many people are even aware of it. They feel strange after hearing of young people with diabetes. Therefore, I did need to hide my condition from the public, for example, I never took my insulin injection at work as I was afraid they would treat me differently. But now it is different, and I feel confident to show my condition to the public after joining the YLD Forum in Melbourne. I am not afraid of people treating me as a person with a special condition anymore and I feel happy to explain to others exactly what I am doing with my insulin injection. In a way, this is what I have done to promote the awareness of type 1 diabetes in my country.
Insulin pumps are extremely expensive in Cambodia. I imagine that only very few people have one. I only know about the pump after joining the YLD Forum in Melbourne. Normally people with diabetes go to the hospital for medical checkups and periodic glucose tests in urban areas; whilst in the countryside it is usually once every three or four months. Most people from the countryside do not take insulin continuously, as recommended by doctors as it is so expensive compared to their income. Furthermore, our public health service is not very supportive to people with diabetes. Fortunately, we receive support through the national association, from foreign organizations and institutions to cover the medical expenses for those living in the countryside. However, we do need more support from them to promote the awareness of diabetes, especially type 1 diabetes.
As it is just the start for me and my National Association, I have created a facebook page as a forum for people with type 1 diabetes in Cambodia to discuss anything related to their diabetes and their contribution to other people with diabetes. Even though it is only the beginning, I want to commit myself to promoting diabetes and awareness.
In line with the objectives of my National Association on promoting the awareness of diabetes, I plan to gather all the people with diabetes, especially Type 1 Diabetes, as much as possible to work together as a group and share their knowledge and experiences of their diabetes treatment with each other, as well as to conduct social training about diabetes in public schools. I hope to have more time to work with my national association as well as other Young Leaders with Diabetes.