Alexandra Burke: Making headlines about diabetes
Real Stories Knowledge is power and with a history of diabetes in her family, X Factor star, Alexandra Burke wants to use her story to encourage everyone to sit up and take notice.
Tell us about touring with the theatre production of the Bodyguard, what has the experience been like?
Touring itself is really hard. It’s hard being away from my family for such a long time and moving to a different location every two weeks. But this experience has gone so quickly! It’s been so much fun and I’ve learnt so much, not to mention I’ve made amazing friends on this tour. Playing this role in the bodyguard is truly a dream for me – it’s an honour. I’ve always been a big fan of Whitney Houston so it really is a privilege.
What is your family connection to diabetes?
My great grandmother and grandmother both suffered with diabetes. They have sadly passed away now. Also, my mother Melissa is currently living with Type 2 diabetes. She is the strongest woman I know and I truly look up to her.
How have you learnt to cope with the illnesses of your mother and grandmother?
It hasn’t been easy. I don’t have a lot of memories when it comes to my grandmother. She died when I was 4 or 5 years old. And my mother…you only get one mother, right? It’s really hard for me to see my mother in pain. But like I said, she really is the strongest woman I know. Even when she is in and out of hospital, she always finds a way to smile through it all. Sometimes she may have her moments, like anyone would - but she tries her best to stay strong for not only herself, but her family.
What do you think can be done in the effort to improve diabetes education and care?
First of all - Diabetes UK are doing so many wonderful things to make people aware of the condition, and to improve knowledge around diabetes. It really is as simple as looking after yourself and taking the time to have regular check-ups. If it runs in your family, it is especially important to make that a priority.
Do you think that there is a lack of awareness about the seriousness of Type 2 diabetes?
I believe if you haven’t seen someone going through Type 2 diabetes then you might not appreciate how serious it can be. But that is the same with anything in life. If someone isn’t faced directly with an issue, they may not find it necessary to go out of their way and read about, for example, diabetes. To be honest the reason why I know what I know is simply because of my mother and living with it. It’s not easy.
How are you helping raise awareness of the condition?
I'm so conscious about what I eat and how I live my life in order not to get Type 2 diabetes. I’m the kind of person who talks about it all the time. It probably annoys some people but I know knowledge is power, and when you’re aware of it you think twice about everything. I’m blessed enough in life that sometimes when I speak it can make a headline. So I use that for the best and always send positive messages out in the public. If there’s ever a way to help by spreading information, I will always do it. It’s important! We as humans never stop learning.
You lead a busy life - how do you keep making time for your loved ones?
I always miss my family. I was crying on the phone too my mother only a couple days ago because I haven’t seen my family in a month. There is always a way to keep in contact. FaceTime, Skype, Whatsapp, etc. Any chance I get I always go home and be with my loved ones. Thank God my family understand my schedule - they know I love to work. But busy is never an excuse! I always make time, even if we have to schedule in BBQ’s or family dinners. We make it happen!! :-)