MILTON PAULO FLORET FRANZOLIN has always been a sportsman. He trains for marathons and plays squash twice a week. In 2003, at the age of 50, he was diagnosed with diabetes following his yearly medical check-up. “At first I was revolted and didn’t understand how I’d become ill,” he says. “My frustration didn’t last for long, I didn’t want to be a victim but rather, a fighter.”
Ironically, Milton had been working as a volunteer with the Juvenile Diabetes Association of São Paulo for two years before being diagnosed with the disease. He had been developing a programme which enables children with diabetes to exercise safely. “My goal is to prove that you can live a normal life and be physically competitive
even if you have diabetes,” he explains.
More than ever, Milton is convinced that awareness is crucial to maintaining health and avoiding complications. “Treatment for diabetes may have improved lately but it is still difficult for poorer people living with the disease to have access to the information they need,” he says.
Milton now believes that being diagnosed with diabetes is the best thing that ever happened to him as he feels deeply that he’s making a difference through his actions. “It is a privilege and great feeling to be able to influence people’s lives, especially those of youngsters,” he adds. He encourages others to do the same.
© World Health Organization