My life in Science whilst raising a child with type 1 diabetes

Biomedical Science, Type 1 Diabetes, Coeliac Disease and other findings


2 Comments

Mentoring, Support and Guidance

ImageRecently, I have been lucky enough to take part in a wonderful scheme through my University, to attend a mentoring programme with a commercial organisation.  That organisation happens to be a global world leader in servicing the scientific industries, known as ThermoFisher Scientific. As an undergraduate with university laboratory experience, and limited awareness of where these skills would be transferable, the experience has so far enlightened me and gave me confidence that I can develop and build on my strengths.  I felt wonderment approaching the company, and discussing my future plans during mock interviews.  My CV has had some restructuring and now looks very polished.  My attitude towards my “soft skills” has changed from – “who wants a mother who has been a carer for the past 7 years?” to “Well, I’m an immaculately organised individual who has taken some major life challenges on board and learned to succeed under great pressure”.  What can I say? There’s a new shiny me on the horizon and I am truly excited about my future now.  A different story a few years back with a very young baby whose life was hanging on the balance.

However, I want to say more about the mentoring. I want to convey that the experience has not only been uplifting, confidence building and enriching for me – it has also shown me that everyone out there, in the industry has a story to tell. That my story may be poignant and inspiring, but there are so many others out there living a similar life.  People creating life-changing scientific breakthroughs, the people behind them supporting them and believing in their goal, the technologists building the tools, the driven Marketing and sales teams reaching out to meet scientific companies core values and needs. The wide expanse of life technology in Scotland alone, and the possibilities for graduates to get involved is out there and it’s a great impetus to get to know yourself better. 

I have doubted myself along the way, several times, with pressures of workload and learning topics that had me mimicking Stan Laurel from the wonderful ‘Laurel and Hardy’ movies (genius if you ask me!). But somehow, I keep on persevering because the fact of the matter is, it still annoys me greatly that no one truly understands why Type 1 Diabetes occurs or how to prevent it.  I read somewhere once, that the answers are all “out there” (wherever that is?) and it is up to us to find them.  I like this motto!

One major challenge I have facing me, that frightens me at the moment, is my son’s transition to Secondary school! Him taking on more responsibilities and managing that fine balance –  when we are talking about a drug that keeps him alive everyday, but could also pose a life threatening risk to him at the same time! It would amazing if Medtronic or Novo Nordisk could inspire the Scottish Government to employ Diabetes trained specialist nurses in Schools these days, but as most school nurses are peripatetic that dream may be a far off fantasy! I know that Diabetes Uk has a current campaign to improve care for children in schools in England, but not sure what polans are under way for children in Scotland. http://www.diabetes.org.uk/Get_involved/Campaigning/Our-campaigns/Type-1-diabetes-Make-the-grade/.  Also JDRF have a major parliamentary campaign launched recently to help ministers realise why research is so important and more funding is needed, http://www.jdrf.org.uk/campaigns/countmein, but at ground level many mistakes are still affecting my son’s healthcare and support at school and this is the key factor in all of the decisions I base my life plans around.  At the end of the day, I am his mother, his carer and his needs will always come first. 

It is with all this in mind I have decided that my Honours year at University will need to be put on hold at the moment.  It has not been an easy decision to make, but I feel that my University would prefer students in Biomedical Science who take on honours, to do so as full-time students.  Which I cannot fulfil.  It has taken me 7 years as a part-time student to get this far, and I think that shows I’m dedicated, but as I say, it’s all about the balance. 

If you are interested in becoming a part-time student please contact the Lifelong learning academy at UWS for further information.