A WOMAN who has lived with diabetes since she was a child is still going strong after 60 years with the disease.

Marina Lightbown was diagnosed with Type One diabetes when she was just three years old.

There are two types of diabetes – a condition where a person’s blood sugar becomes too high – and while type two can be reversed, type one has to be lived with forever.

Mrs Lightbown, 63, of Bartley Close, Benfleet, was first diagnosed in 1961, having daily injections of insulin when she was a child, and for the past 20 years has four injections a day.

Despite this, she has lived a long and prosperous life and is still happy to this day.

She was sent the Lawrence Medal by the charity Diabetes UK, which anyone that has lived with the disease for 60 years can apply for.

Mrs Lightbown, who worked for Essex Police in administration for most of her life, was previously awarded the Alan Nabarro Medal in 2011 for living with the disease for 50 years.

She said: “I never get a day off and you know you’re never going to get rid of it. You just have to get on with it.


Family - Marinas son Danny (left) and Richard have been hugely important to her life

Family - Marina's son Danny (left) and Richard have been "hugely important" to her life


“Young people have difficulty getting to grips with it, especially during the teenage years, but you just do what you can, and I have great support from family and friends.

“If your sugar drops too low for any reason you can go into a coma and die.

You’re usually prone to other illnesses with diabetes, like heart diseases, kidney failure and amputations of toes and fingers.

“In 60 years I have had about four to five bad happenings where my life has been on the line a bit.”

Previously, Mrs Lightbown was presented her medal by Dr Arnold Azulay at Southend Hospital, who originally diagnosed her, but due to Covid, a ceremony could not be held this time.

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Mrs Lighbown said the support of her parents Edie and Burt Lazell, her husband Richard, and her son Danny have been invaluable and helped get her through her life.

She has urged younger people with the disease not to lose faith after diagnosis.

She added: “I want to inspire younger people who have been recently diagnosed who have this illness that there is life after diabetes.

“I am living proof of that. I know what they are going through. It’s not pleasant.”