Ruby Parfitt was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just days before her 14th birthday. Now 18, the singer and Miss Wales 2016 finalist says diabetes management has become second nature to her.

At age 14, Ruby questioned whether she would ever be successful following her diagnosis. “I thought that my normal life was over,” she said.

“One of my first thoughts was that I could never be a successful singer or an actress, which have been my passions since I was small.”

Five years later, Ruby participated in the three-mile Miss Wales Wedge Walk, raising money for the charity Beauty with a Purpose. She confidently manages her diabetes, and knew exactly what she needed to do on the walk.

“I had to make sure that I looked after any blisters, took all my diabetes kit, snacks and hypo treatment along too. Otherwise, I knew I could do exactly what everyone else does.”

Ruby’s fears that she couldn’t live a normal life have been quelled, and her optimistic outlook for the future is also one of practicality. She is a finalist for Miss Wales 2016, following in the footsteps of a number of successful models with type 1 diabetes, and the singer/songwriter has also travelled to Los Angeles to record a string of songs.

However, Ruby was understandably taken aback upon her diagnosis, and knowing how to control her condition did not happen easily or quickly.

“When I was first diagnosed it was tricky to understand all the information that was thrown at me. None of my family knew anything about diabetes, we didn’t know anyone who had it either.

“At the start, it was very confusing as I was still going through the honeymoon period and didn’t need that much insulin, so I had to make a lot of adjustments.

“I was unable to get up and go off somewhere or do anything physical without testing my blood sugar levels. Mealtimes seemed so complicated – having to test my blood sugar levels before every meal, finding out how much carbohydrate there was per gram in everything I ate, then dividing it by a number to work out how much insulin I needed to inject. One thing’s for sure, It certainly improved my maths!”

Coming to terms with these life-changing routines was complex on a practical level, but also emotionally, as Ruby questioned if she could pursue her chosen career options.

“When I was in hospital (after first being diagnosed) I was really upset and told my mother that I was never going to be able to be successful, so she Googled famous diabetics and right away, Steve Redgrave, Halle Berry and Nick Jonas (from the Jonas Brothers) came up. All of a sudden, I knew I was going to be ok.”

Nowadays, diabetes is part of the background in Ruby’s day-to-day life. Aside from being incredibly busy, she is also very active, and she credits her increased energy to adopting a low-carb diet.

“I try to stick to a low-carb diet. I mostly like salads, lean meat, fish or cheese. I eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit and drink lots of water, as well. I always feel better when I eat healthily, I seem to have much more energy too.”

Ruby is set to participate in the Miss Wales 2016 finals after being selected as one of the members of Team Torfaen. The finals, which will be held at the Princess Royal Theatre in Port Talbot, take place between April 14-16, and Ruby views the competition not just as an opportunity for herself, but a chance to inspire other members of the diabetes community.

“Taking part in Miss Wales is a wonderful opportunity to be an inspiration for young people with diabetes, to make them believe in themselves and to never let it hold you back.

“More recently, I’ve heard about America’s Miss Idaho, Sierra Sandison, who wears her pump in full view with pride. I would love to be in a position to empower young people with diabetes.”

Diabetes can be extremely hard for adolescents. Teenage life is tricky at the best of times, and it can be challenging to prioritise diabetes management over other aspects of your life. Having been diagnosed at 14, Ruby, who shares her birthday on November 14 with World Diabetes Day, is keen to show that diabetes doesn’t have to hold you back if it is managed correctly.

“To begin with there are huge changes that you have to get used to, but gradually it’ll all become second nature.

“I look at balancing my blood sugar levels as just another routine, like brushing my teeth or styling my hair. If you have a dream – chase it, be the best you can be, look after your health and there’s nothing you can’t do.”

Ruby also hopes that awareness of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes becomes more common. Earlier this year, five-year-old Kycie Terry died from undiagnosed type 1, while a petition has been launched to include the type 1 symptoms in the NHS’ Personal Child Health Record.

“I was very lucky that my diabetes was caught in time so that I’m able to keep myself healthy,” said Ruby. “If people are regularly made aware of the symptoms, which can develop very quickly in young people, lives could be saved.

“I consider myself extremely lucky and now I’m going to live my dreams and be the best that I can be.”

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