Charity: Beijing Diabetes Prevention and Control Association
Medical Condition: Diabetes
Medical Therapy: Insulin Pump
Qi Zhang was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was only seven years old. Since then, she has struggled to live a normal life, but she has never given up. Qi started using an insulin pump about 15 years ago. Now, Qi works as a pediatric technician and volunteers with the Beijing Diabetes Prevention and Control Association. She established the China Type 1 Diabetes Caring Foundation, a first-of-its-kind educational organization.
“When I was 7, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The past 38 years have been an endless struggle for a normal life, and I almost didn’t graduate from college because of my condition.
“But I was determined to get better and help others. I started using an insulin pump more than 15 years ago, and it has helped me live a better life every day. Now I work as a pediatric technician and help patients just as my doctors helped me.
“I set up 13 private online groups on WeChat and QQ, two major social media platforms in China. The groups provide free, instant counseling for type 1 diabetes patients. People frequently ask me, ‘Why on earth would you start an online community, when you could devote that time to your own health, job or family?’ The answer is simple: I believe in the power of sharing my story and listening to others.
“Then, I turned my passion to giving motivational speeches at more than 100 events for transient ischemic dilation (TID) patients and their families. About seven years ago, I also began volunteering with the Beijing Diabetes Prevention and Control Association.
“Through the association, I established the China Type I Diabetes Caring Foundation, a first-of-its-kind TID peer-to-peer education organization in China in 2015. More than 170 patient volunteers from seven provinces joined the launch party in Tianjin in January 2015. The members are committed to counseling and sharing their experiences battling the disease with fellow patients in their local area.”
“You are not alone.”
“It’s easy to get discouraged, but you are not alone. There is always someone to talk to, and if you can’t find someone right away, keep trying. Don’t underestimate the importance of listening to each other and sharing your story.”
Beijing Diabetes Prevention and Control Association supports patients in Beijing so they can manage their disease on a daily basis. This includes a peer support model that offers social, emotional and ongoing support other people with diabetes or a similar disease.