Published on 26 August 2022

Spotting the signs of the undiagnosed condition early could save lives.

A young woman who nearly died from undiagnosed type 1 diabetes is campaigning to save the lives of others by raising awareness of the symptoms while fundraising for DRWF.

Megan Jansen overcame her fear to abseil more than 550 feet down Portsmouth’s iconic Spinnaker Tower to celebrate the fact she’s still alive after defying a deadly complication from undiagnosed type 1 diabetes just over five years ago.

Megan hoped her participation in this challenge would help to raise awareness of the symptoms to save the lives of other young people and children.

“Knowing the symptoms of diabetes is life saving and had it not been for the intensive care unit team at Torbay Hospital in Torquay I would have lost my life in 2016,” warned Megan, 22. “I think DRWF has a great understanding of how devastating a diagnosis of diabetes can be and their attitude towards wellbeing has helped me become more confident in myself.”

Megan and her dad Simon.

Megan with her dad, Simon, after the abseil. 

Megan became very ill at Christmas in 2016 and was rushed to hospital where she was diagnosed with severe diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This happens when the body starts to run out of insulin and harmful substances called ketones build up in the body. This is life-threatening if not treated quickly.

Simon Jansen, Megan’s father, said: “Megan spent five days in intensive care being nursed back from near death. We had been warned of the severity of her condition from the start and were extremely worried. Thankfully Megan recovered, albeit facing a life-changing lifestyle. She’s become highly independent with a strong work ethic and a passion for life. It still doesn’t stop us worrying about her as parents but glad she has found supportive care at Queen Alexandra Hospital Diabetes Clinic in Portsmouth.”

Simon, who has type 2 diabetes, joined his daughter in the abseil for DRWF. He added: “I am so proud and grateful to have been “roped in” to abseil the Spinnaker Tower to support my daughter’s efforts to raise money for DRWF. We are always so proud of what she achieves, and of her involvement raising awareness and funds for such a worthy cause, just don’t ask me to jump out of a plane!”

Abseils are a regular fundraising event and DRWF is delighted to have willing volunteers wishing to take part and fundraise for the charity. The next abseil is on 2nd October – more information is available here.

Megan said: “Diabetes is not just as simple as controlling your glucose levels and DRWF has helped people develop healthy relationships with their diabetes. The abseil was exhilarating and so important for me to constantly challenge myself. Even more exciting was that my dad chose to take up a place as well, especially as he is living with type 2 diabetes.”

Megan with her abseiling medal.
Megan with her CGM.

Megan with her abseiling medal (left), and her CGM device (right).

Megan warns people to be aware of the symptoms of high blood sugars when the body stops producing enough insulin in type 1 diabetes

Megan described her symptoms before she was diagnosed: “I was feeling very thirsty, peeing more than usual, feeling very tired, thrush that keeps coming back and fruity-smelling breath; they are all signs of type 1 diabetes, and these can happen to anyone at any stage of life. Had I known about these symptoms we may have caught my diagnosis sooner and avoided being rushed to hospital in a critical condition.

“A diabetes diagnosis, especially type 1, is life changing. It’s important to acknowledge that it can be a very difficult thing to manage. I can’t say my glucose levels are always perfect, but the most important tip is setting yourself small goals. It helps me feel accomplished which leads to a more positive attitude.

“When I struggle with high blood glucose levels, achieving smaller goals allows me to feel more in control of my diabetes and I feel more positive about getting control of my glucose levels. Self-care and self-acceptance post diagnosis is so important and finding a great support network can really help.

“One more thing please remember if you’re struggling with your diabetes, reach out to DRWF and make the most of the incredible support networks that they can provide. Do not let your diabetes get in the way of what you want to achieve, whether it be a big abseil, a work goal or a personal life goal living with diabetes does not define you.”

Our fundraisers preparing for an abseil.

Our fundraisers getting ready to abseil. 

Megan “managed brilliantly”

Despite difficult times at school and through her A-levels Megan went on to receive an unconditional offer at De Montfort University- in Leicester.

Megan’s father Simon said: “Megan managed brilliantly with type 1 diabetes, doing her best to enjoy uni life and not letting it get it in the way! Even in the pandemic she absolutely excelled in her studies, graduating with a first-class honours degree and is now studying for her Masters.

Megan added: “Thanks to the team at Torbay Hospital, my diabetes care team and my friends and family I have achieved great things that I am very proud of working in the field of dance for disability and community practice and with New Adventures dance company. I’ve begun my MA in dance research and hope to continue to advocate for disabled people across the country.”

The Spinnaker Tower abseil is from a height of 170 metres (552 feet), offering breath-taking 23-mile views over Portsmouth Harbour, the city, the Solent, the South Downs and the Isle of Wight. More than £4,000 has been raised so far on this abseil.

DRWF Head of Community Fundraising Tim Green praised Megan and Simon for their DRWF fundraising: “We rely on voluntary fundraising as we don’t receive any government funding, the charity is always looking for people willing to take on a challenge. It can be anything from a coffee morning or dress down day at work to something like the Spinnaker Challenge. We have places available on 2nd October for the next abseil. Please get in touch with us if you would like to get involved with the charity by emailing”

Support DRWF by making a donation here
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