I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on January 19, 1999, at a small clinic in my hometown of Bridgetown, Barbados. On this morning in January, my life changed in such an unusual way. A simple visit to our family doctor – not for myself, but for my Nan! – resulted in a urine sample that would change my life forever. Now, after more than 20 years of living with type 1 diabetes, I look back on this day as the day I started to LIVE.
For many years after my diabetes diagnosis, I struggled. I struggled to feel normal, in a country where there are few people with type 1 diabetes, I struggled to cope in an environment where I felt different to my friends and family, and I struggled to be understood. My first few years after my diagnosis were littered with failure, disappointment, loneliness, stigma, sleepless nights and many do overs. It felt like the race I was running, started late, and was filled with obstacles that no one else had in their lane.
In 2011, my life changed, when I attended the first Young Leaders in Diabetes Programme, hosted by the International Diabetes Federation, in Dubai UAE. Imagine, a young adult from the Caribbean, who walked her whole life feeling like she was alone and disadvantaged, entering a world where diabetes was looked at positively and where, people who were thriving with their condition gathered. It was like seeing in colour for the first time. Looking through my new diabetes glasses, life was so vibrant, and full of many possibilities that were in my blind spot before.
The years that followed completely shaped who I am today. As my passion for helping people living with diabetes grew, it slowly turned into my career. Working and volunteering in diabetes and Non-Communicable Diseases took me to every corner of the globe and taught me so many lessons. I truly believe that I am made up of pieces of every person, interaction and opportunity I was given. From volunteering in Tanzania, to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, to speaking on panels and stages around the world and consulting in the Caribbean Community, I have learnt that every individual you interact with is extremely important, and that every single life matters. When you focus on changing one life, empowering one soul and educating one mind, this transforms the world.
My love for people living with diabetes, grew to a passion to help people living with all NCDS to now a focus on empowering all people living with and/ or affected by any allergy, condition or disease. In addition, I truly believe that all people, regardless of the country that they live, should have equal access to quality medication, supplies and the tools needed to live their best life possible, with their condition. This is the mission of The Living Collection.
The Living Collection, which is the first of its kind in the Caribbean, is a lifestyle brand that specializes in designing custom medical products that enhance your health, your style and your life. With our first products launched, The Living Collection focuses on creating fashionable and functional medical jewellery, created in Barbados, and shipped worldwide. As a person who has lived with a chronic condition for more than 20 years, I have always strived to find ways to empower people AND save lives! This is the perfect blend!
I have dreamt about The Living Collection for many many years. For many years I doubted that I had what it took. Would it resonate with people on my home island and throughout the Caribbean? Was it was worth the risk? I was scared to fail, and I was scared that this disease that I grew to “love” and manage so well, would hold me back once again.
As my diabetes career grew, and the opportunities constantly came, I found myself constantly giving up what I wanted most, for what I wanted now. So….with the support of my family…I launched The Living Collection Inc.
2020 was a year unlike any other in our history. It brought out vulnerability in all of us. But as Brené Brown says, “Where there is vulnerability, there is great innovation, creativity and change.” It’s my mission to use these moments to change the world.
For more about The Living Collection, Inc. and other women making an impact, check out this bareMinerals article by Katie Doyle. Visit The Living Collection, Inc. website to experience what Krystal has built!