“Freya is the bravest kid I know. She dives head first into things and amazes everyone around her. She’s an absolute ray of sunshine!”
Scott Mitchell is a very proud dad. His daughter, Freya, now aged 10, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes eight years ago but she has not let it hold her back. She was recently chosen out of around one thousand children to be a Royal Ballet Junior Associate which sees her train with the Royal Ballet in London every month. She also trains three times a week with her local dance school, Associates Tonbridge.
A shock diagnosis and learning to use type 1 tech
Freya was just two years old when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Scott clearly recalls that day:
“One morning Freya woke up and her lips were blue. We knew something was seriously wrong but we never imagined it would be type 1 diabetes. Her mum, Louise, managed to get an appointment with the GP who tested her urine and her blood while still at the surgery. Her blood glucose levels were dangerously high. The next stop was the hospital where she was rushed in with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which can be life-threatening. Of course, we had no idea what that was until it was all explained to us over the next few days.”
Freya stayed in hospital for about four days and the family were given all the information to start their new journey with type 1 diabetes. For Scott and the family, the diagnosis was a complete shock.
“When I look back at old photographs, I can see that Freya had lost weight. She had started wetting the bed at night, but she was only two, so we didn’t think anything of it.
“After the diagnosis, it was bewildering for us and terrifying for a two year old who didn’t understand why her fingers had to be pricked or why she needed all these injections. She hated them. Every injection was a fight. It was heartbreaking.”
Eventually, family life returned to a new, busy normal. Freya has an older sister, Ella, aged 12, and a younger brother, Hunter, aged three. Freya now uses an insulin pump which, though tough to use at first, has given Freya and her family a new sense of freedom.
Scott says: “The insulin pump way of life is much easier. We all enjoy that we can now go out more and have so much more freedom to choose what and when we eat.”
Keep on Dancing!
Freya’s true passion is dance. Scott says: “Freya loves dance. If she’s not dancing there’s something wrong! She has been dancing with her local dance school, Tonbridge Associates since she was five years old. The coaches there have always accepted her type 1. They are amazing and they understand what’s happening with all Freya’s highs and lows.”
Freya says, “Dancing makes me really happy. I felt really excited to be a Royal Ballet School Junior Associate, I couldn’t believe I was chosen out of so many people.”
While Freya sometimes finds her insulin pump can get in the way when she dances, it has helped her with her type 1 management. It hasn’t made her feel self-conscious either. She says: “My friends and coaches all think my pump is very cool, they are all very supportive.”
Freya has also learned that a little preparation means she can keep dancing without type 1 diabetes getting in her way. She says: “I always test my blood before I go in to dance and make sure I have something with carbs to eat or drink so I don’t go low when dancing.”
In fact, Freya has some words of advice for other people with type 1:
“Don’t let your type 1 diabetes get in the way. I use it as my superpower. You can do anything like someone without type 1 – and even do it better.”
Freya’s dad is understandably proud of Freya’s inspirational attitude:
“Her glucose levels can be pretty high before performing, which I think must be nerves, but you would never know. She always smashes it! She embraces her type 1. I think she’s quite proud of her pump and has no problem in showing it off. She’s very strong willed and has a big personality. We are incredibly proud of her as a family!”