NSW resident, Jaybee Serrano celebrated his 34th birthday talking about diabetes screening at Australian Parliament House.

His last year was full of transition – personally and professionally.

In April 2017, Jaybee experienced an excruciating pain in his neck that lasted for days resulting in sleepless nights. One night, he couldn’t bear the pain anymore and had to rush into the emergency department of Blacktown Mount Druitt Hospital at 3:00 am.

After conducting some tests, doctors found swelling in his oral cavity and recommended an overnight stay for observation. Jaybee was discharged the next day.

A few days later, he received a letter from Blacktown Hospital telling him that his pathology tests revealed pre-diabetes. It was recommended that he visit his GP for advice and lifestyle modification to prevent the onset of diabetes.

“My mother has diabetes and other relatives in the Philippines have diabetes. Still, I never thought that I would get diagnosed with pre-diabetes”.

I asked myself – ‘How could a stiff neck be a sign of diabetes?’ – There’s no relation at all. However, the same crippling experience of stiff neck led me to the emergency department and thankfully made me aware of my diabetes risk”.

A Registered Nurse by profession, Jaybee attended hospital with a totally unrelated health condition.  However, at Blacktown Hospital routine diabetes screening is performed for anyone over 18 presenting to the emergency department and this is what led to Jaybee’s early warning.

Early detection and early treatment of diabetes reduces the risk of complications and can save the health system billions.

“The diagnosis was a turning point in my life,” said Jaybee.

He met his GP and created a goal for a healthier lifestyle.

“Our current environment is full of triggers that entice us to eat unhealthily. Sugar is sneaky, and we are surrounded by inexpensive, ready-to-eat, tasty and high calorie foods. Before all this happened, I used to consume whatever was affordable and convenient”.

“Sticking to a healthy lifestyle wasn’t easy. It required me to find new ways to eat healthier. I would stack-up fruits and vegetables, so they are easily available. Still, if you put a doughnut in front of me – I really don’t like my chances!”

Jaybee found creative ways for maintaining his healthy lifestyle, he began more mindful eating and became physically active. With all his efforts, he has managed to change his test results.

Today, he helps other people to make the right health decisions and tackle diabetes as a diabetes educator at Blacktown Mount Druitt Hospital.

He ushered in his 34th birthday at the Detecting Diabetes event run by Pathology Awareness Australia and Diabetes Australia at Australian Parliament House. Jaybee shared his personal experience of dealing with pre-diabetes with an audience of politicians and staffers.

His message to everyone – “Our current food supply is saturated with sugar without us even knowing it. There is a public health crisis – the silent epidemic of diabetes. Early pathology screening is the first step in the right direction”.