Daughter's 'life-changing' diabetes diagnosis spurs family onto 100 mile challenge

FearnSwain and her family are cycling 100 miles between them in the Jdrf 100 challenge to raise mon

Fearn Swain and her family are cycling 100 miles between them in the JDRF 100 challenge to raise money for the diabetic team at West Suffolk Hospital. Fearn, Emma and Ross Swain cycling near their house. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The family of a fit and active 12-year-old girl from Acton, who dances around the country, said their lives have "completely changed" after she was diagnosed with diabetes. 

Fearn Swain was worried she "wouldn't be able to dance again" after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes just a few weeks ago, following a suspected water infection. 

FearnSwain and her family are cycling 100 miles between them in the Jdrf 100 challenge to raise mon

Fearn Swain and her family are cycling 100 miles between them in the JDRF 100 challenge to raise money for the diabetic team at West Suffolk Hospital. Pictured from left to right is Emma, Phoebe, Ross and Fearn. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Blood tests at West Suffolk Hospital detected Fearn had Type 1 diabetes, which causes the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood to become too high.

It means your body cannot produce enough of a hormone called insulin, which controls blood glucose. You therefore need to be injected with it daily to keep your levels under control.

Mum Emma Swain, 38, said it was a "huge shock" to find out her daughter Fearn had been diagnosed with the lifelong illness.

FearnSwain and her family are cycling 100 miles between them in the Jdrf 100 challenge to raise mon

Fearn Swain (front) and her family are cycling 100 miles between them in the JDRF 100 challenge to raise money for the diabetics team at West Suffolk Hospital. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Fearn, a huge sports enthusiast, has spent years competing around the country in disco-freestyle competitions, doing gymnastics, ballet and playing football, so receiving the news she was diabetic has been life-changing. 

She had discovered a love for running during the lockdown, after dance classes were cancelled, but now even the simplest of tasks has become much more of a challenge. 

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Fifteen minutes before each run, she has to check her blood glucose levels and load up on carbs if she is low - while stopping to check her levels halfway through and always needing snacks on hand. 

Fearn Swain, aged 12, is cycling 100 miles with her family to raise money after she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. 

Fearn Swain, aged 12, is cycling 100 miles with her family to raise money after she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. - Credit: Emma Swain

Mrs Swain said it has been "life-changing" for family members, who have had to learn about the condition, what snacks are best for her and weighing out all foods when preparing meals. 

"Fearn has good and bad days, but it really has taken over our lives and it is constant," said Mrs Swain, who is a teaching assistant. 

"She can feel really shaky and it's a lot of planning what she can eat, weighing out her foods and checking her blood sugar levels every two hours.

"I'd heard about diabetes but until it hits you, you don't realise how much it changes your life."

Fearn has received incredible support and treatment from the diabetes team at West Suffolk Hospital, and has decided to raise money to show her appreciation for its My WiSH charity. 

Fearn Swain, 12, a keen dancer and gymnast, has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Fearn Swain, 12, a keen dancer and gymnast, has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. - Credit: Emma Swain

Emma and Fearn, along with 17-year-old Phoebe and dad Ross, 37, are cycling 100 miles to help raise awareness of the illness and how it changes your daily lives. 

The four of them are joining the JDRF challenge, which is the leading diabetes foundation, to celebrate 100 years of insulin being discovered and saving thousands of lives. 

They will be cycling 25 miles each - or maybe 100 if they can - to raise money to help generate funds for the team at West Suffolk Hospital and the national diabetics team. 

You can support them here.

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