Celebrating victory over adversity

By Ewen McRae

A lifetime of perseverance and diligence from Melton South’s Lesley Marie Hart was recognised recently, with Diabetes Victoria presenting her with a prestigious award.

Ms Hart was awarded the Kellion Victory Medal for her achievement of living with type 1 diabetes for 50 years.

Ms Hart was just 12 when she was diagnosed with the condition in 1967. She said she sometimes resembled ‘the mad scientist’, managing her diabetes with urine testing and painstakingly boiling syringes and needles over a saucepan.

While she managed a successful printing business with her husband Henri, she said she was most proud of raising her children, Luke and Elaine, after several doctors warned her against having children.

When planning for pregnancy, Ms Hart was told to consider adoption, because successful births were rare for people living with type 1 diabetes at the time.

A few years later, Ms Hart gave birth to a healthy baby boy, without being induced or requiring a caesarean. “In 1977, this was considered quite an achievement,” Ms Hart recalls. “My husband Henri, of nearly 47 years, is my support, my encouragement, my reminder and my friend. I could not have asked for a more caring and supportive life partner. Our children have also been the same.”

The Kellion Victory Medal honours the lives of people who have lived with diabetes for many decades.

Diabetes Victoria chief executive Craig Bennett said advancements in medicine now allowed for a far greater quality of life for those living with the condition.

“There is no cure yet for type 1 diabetes, but recent innovations have improved life expectancy and quality of life immensely,” Mr Bennett said. “It is a remarkable achievement to have lived with diabetes for so many decades.”