Liberal MLA Nicole Lawder knows too well of the dangers of living with undiagnosed diabetes. If not for a chance encounter at work, she would have continued to live undiagnosed herself.
That is why Ms Lawder is advocating for all ACT public servants to be tested for diabetes at work, just like she was.
Ms Lawder moved a motion in the ACT Legislative Assembly on Wednesday (31 July) calling on the ACT Government to work with Diabetes NSW & ACT to ensure ACT public servants are offered a diabetes test at their workplace.
It was by sheer luck that the Liberal MLA discovered she had diabetes late last year when Diabetes ACT/NSW came to the ACT Legislative Assembly to offer staff a free test.
“I didn’t even have a slot to see them but on the day, one of my staff who had booked in was away sick,” Ms Lawder shared. “I decided to take their spot so I could get a photo and put it on my social media for awareness-raising.
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“I was taken by surprise when the test showed I had diabetes and that I had been living with undiagnosed diabetes for some time.”
Ms Lawder said she had previously had episodes of high blood pressure but put that down to the stress of work and life. Now realising what can happen if the chronic disease goes untreated – from blindness, kidney damage, heart attack to amputation of limbs – she is thankful she was tested that day.
“The longer you go without medicating it, the greater the possibility of a significant medical issue developing before you end up in the hospital,” Ms Lawder said.
“Being diagnosed now, while it was a shock, enables me to try and manage it through medication and other lifestyle and health choices and that should enable me to stay healthier for longer.
“I would have not have known and who knows what damage could have been done in that time.”
Ms Lawder hopes the ACT Government realises how important it is to confront diabetes in the workplace by ensuring all ACT public servants are offered the test in the workplace.
“Diabetes is a huge health challenge which we must confront,” Ms Lawder said. “It can lead to a range of health complications including heart disease, blindness and amputation. It can also cause death.
“In the ACT, there are thousands of Canberrans who have been diagnosed and are living with different types of diabetes.
“It is estimated that there could be around 5,500 people in the ACT who are silently living with diabetes without knowing it. The ACT Government can do more. As someone who was diagnosed through a workplace testing program, I strongly recommend it.”