Skip to main content
Shared experience

Three generations of family affected by type 1 diabetes

“If I met the scientists behind the insulin technology I would honestly give them the biggest high five in the world!”

Dannie on her wedding day in an official wedding photo with her dad and daughter

Dannie O’Connor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 4 years old. Now at age 31 she has been living with the diagnosis for 27 years. Dannie’s daughter Sophie aged 5 and father Alistair are also living with the condition. Alistair was diagnosed 11 years after Dannie, and Sophie was diagnosed shortly after she started nursery.

Diagnosis

Dannie’s earliest memory from being diagnosed was hiding under a hospital bed.

“I was hiding under a hospital bed with the blankets all wrapped around me and waiting for the nurses to come in and do my injection. At that time it was syringes and drawing up the insulin so the needles looked humongous. That was my first and very clearest memory of being diagnosed with type 1 at that age. But it never leaves.”

When Dannie’s dad Alistair was diagnosed later on, he already had 10-11 years experience of type 1. Dannie says:

“Anybody would think it was easier, he has got that experience. But it wasn’t. He was an adult and used to doing things in certain ways and he had to totally change again. It was different from my experience because he straight away went onto 4 insulin injections daily and carb counting. I think for him it was probably harder than for Sophie and I being diagnosed.”

When Sophie was first diagnosed, Dannie remembers sitting in the doctors surgery feeling her whole world had crumbled:

“It’s like a brick hitting you in the face. I instantly started crying and blaming myself. I was so sorry for her and the life that she was going to lead. All the emotions just run through your head in that split second but literally about 30 seconds later it was like no wait a minute we’ve got this we can do this, we’re going to be fine.”

Type 1 technology

Dannie is incredibly grateful for the progress made in technology and has found it’s much easier to have a normal life because of insulin pumps, glucose monitors and mobile apps for information sharing:

“If I had this technology, when I was diagnosed like Sophie has now I think I would have had a very different upbringing and a maybe more of a normal childhood, for Sophie being diagnosed now she is having a completely different experience to what me and my dad had – which is absolutely phenomenal and actually helps me to sleep at night knowing it’s not going to be as bad for her as it was for us.

Now looking at my dad, myself and Sophie and how strong we are as people and how it has made us grow up before a lot of our peers did and what we’ve achieved, especially Sophie in her wee tiny life, you don’t blame anybody, you don’t feel you’re being picked on, it’s just one of these unfortunate things that happened and we’ve got no control over so why dwell on what could have been and just move forward and try and make you know positives from it and live as normal and happy a life as we can.

A type 1 cure for me, my dad and Sophie and the rest of our family would mean the world.

It would just make things so much easier and just give us that bit of normality that we’ve been missing all these years. You know, it’s something we’ve never had.”

More shared experiences

Read more
Mia-Imani wearing a white halter neck prom dress, smiling for the photo and wearing a glucose sensor on her upper arm.
Shared experience

"I'm not as scared to wear my sensor out."

Mia-Imani Williams was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in September 2022. We spoke to 11-year-old Mia-Imani about diagnosis, wearing her glucose sensor to prom and the support she gets from her family and friends.

Read more
A close up photo of Billy Cole smiling.
Shared experience

A needle phobia doesn’t need to hold you back

When needle-phobic Billy Cole was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged 56, trying to finger prick and inject was consuming his whole life. Here, the former British Commonwealth-winning athlete shares how he overcame his phobias and gives insight to others dealing with similar fears.

Read more
Temi Olonisakin smiling at the camera over her shoulder with her continuous glucose monitor visible.
Shared experience

What would I do in a zombie apocalypse?

Temi Olonisakin has been living with type 1 for 12 years. A doctor herself, she shares what she’s learned about managing type 1 diabetes and her emotional wellbeing.  

Read more
A photo of Dr Chloe Rackham wearing a labcoat.

"I understand how tough it can be living with type 1 and this motivates me to work towards a cure"

Dr Chloe Rackham was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 13 and is now running a JDRF-funded lab at the University of Exeter. Chloe tells us how having type 1 helps motivate her and how she switches off from her type 1.

Read more
Reece Parkinson wearing a running jacket and out in the countryside
Shared experience

Community, challenges and technology – Reece Parkinson on life with type 1

Broadcaster and communications specialist Reece Parkinson was diagnosed with type 1 when he was 26. Since then, he's used his platform to inspire others.

Read more
Mischa Rodgers, who lives with type 1, at her job as a production coordinator for Sky Sports.
Shared experience

"Being honest allows people to help and support you"

Sports-mad production coordinator Mischa Rodgers has had to learn how to manage adrenaline surges in her fast-paced job with Sky Sports.

Read more
Alys wearing her Dexcom glucose sensor with her JDRF teddy bear, Rufus.
Shared experience

The ELSA study enables early detection of type 1 diabetes

“The long-term health benefits of screening outweigh the short-term stress” – Cerilyn tells us about her experience of finding out her daughter is in the early stages of developing type 1.

Read more
A photo of a woman posing with her hand on her hip in front of a grassy lawn.
Shared experience

Living with type 1 diabetes, hypothyroidism and vitiligo

Rebekah’s story: “I had no idea that having one autoimmune condition makes you more at risk of getting others”

Connect with us on social