For the outside world, Natasha Horne was a popular 20-year-old whose recent weight loss seemed even more vivid than normal.
But behind the smile was a secret because, just months earlier, the girl from the Whale Hill was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Quirky Natasha – known as Tasha – hardly told a soul. And, crucially, she refused to follow the medication rules that would allow her to live a full life with the condition.
Tragically, less than a year after the diagnosis, she died after suffering from a suspected diabetic coma.
Now her heartbroken parents want to make sure her death is not in vain by spreading awareness about and raising money for diabetes.
Sitting in their Fabian Road lounge, which is full of beautiful flowers and condolence cards, Jackie, 43, and rig assistant Stephen, 44, he talked in haste with Teesside Live about how Tasha's reluctance to fully recognize her diabetes, tragic consequences.
Popular girl who would do everything for someone
Tasha was born on January 17, 1998 at the James Cook University Hospital and went to the Whale Hill Primary and Eston Park Schools where she, especially in high school, had a good character.
Jackie said, "She was stubborn, but she would do anything for everyone, if friends at school did not have the money to have lunch, she would buy it for them because she would rather go without it." Everyone knew her. people knew how they were. & # 39;
After she left school, she went to college for a short time and tried several jobs, but she still tried to find her way.
Last year, however, her world was turned upside down when Jackie, a pharmacy manager at Lloyds on the Trunk Road, persuaded her to be tested for diabetes.
Through her job knowledge Jackie saw the signs – things like weight loss, excessive thirst and at night going to the toilet – and insisted that she was tested.
Within a few hours, on October 16 last year, she had been diagnosed with diabetes type 1, with her body not producing enough insulin to fight ketones – organic compounds that are mostly inactive but can attack the body.
Type 1 diabetes is perfectly manageable with regular insulin injections – Teesside singer Amelia Lily is only a person with a high profile who lives with it.
But Tasha quickly retreated, though she was reluctantly cooperative at first, "I do not do needles," she said.
Not even a special cannula, which meant that she did not have to put the needle directly into the skin, helped.
Tash, who was promo queen of Eston Park in 2014, but who had been too heavy at school, started losing weight about two years ago – & # 39; my first thought was & # 39; that she uses drugs? & # 39 ;, gave Jackie. But Jackie and Stephen are of the opinion that the weight loss and the compliments she received clouded her judgment and, by mistake, prevented her from using weight by injecting.
Jackie said, "For a girl with tattoos and piercings, she hated needles, and she was stubborn, if she did not want to do something, she would not do it.
"But we were so worried because of the speed of weight loss, she lost about half her body weight in two to three months, and she went from size 22 to size 10 in six months, but she did not see it as wrong."
Because the tensions grew at home, she stepped in for a while with friend Jordan Rich and his mother to escape what she saw as "whining" – "she thought we were just trying her" – but actually parents tried desperately to try their daughter to help themselves.
Stephen said, "She just did not understand the seriousness of the consequences of not taking it."
Because her body had too little insulin, she had three life-threatening DKA attacks (diabetic ketoacidosis). And after the third on June 8th of this year, a desperate Jackie even took the five-year-old sister she was in love with, Scarlett, to see her in the hospital.
& # 39; I said to her & # 39; that you do not leave us to sit with your little sister to tell her that her best friend is no longer here. & # 39; She said she would change …
"But she was 20 – she had passed the legal age, so it was all on her, we did not receive phone calls or letters to say she was missing medical appointments, and apart from her physical pegging, we could not do more to get her to take it.
"And almost none of her friends knew, she would not wear her medical ID bracelet, so if she went out on a night out and she got sick, they would not know if they'd look for an insulin pen.
& # 39; She always thought that it would never happen to her. She just did not want to accept what she had – she was willing to take the risk.
"She thought she was invincible – she lived life her way."
Tragically, Tasha stayed on a Saturday night, August 22, with a friend at home after a presumably diabetic coma.
Some of her organs are donated for diabetes research – "it was a good idea," says Jackie.
Hundreds of kilos have also been brought forward for Diabetes UK via a GoFundMe page. And anyone attending her funeral on Thursday, September 6 at 2:00 pm at St Hilda's Church, Grangetown, will receive a blue ribbon & # 39; of Diabetes UK to wear.
Acceptance and training
Jackie said: "We need to focus on this now – even if it is to help the younger generation appreciate its seriousness, and not to feel that it is something to be ashamed of.
"More help for parents would be good too.When a young person is diagnosed, most of the education goes to that person – especially with someone like Tasha because she was not a child, it's only because of my job that I suspected – that first attack could have been her last.
"It's all about acceptance and education, you can get it at any time and it does not have to be hereditary, even adults approach me and say" I did not know you could die from diabetes ". .
"We have tried everything we could, and although we can not bring it back, we can help people stay up to date.
What is type 1 diabetes?
• It is a serious, lifelong condition in which your blood sugar level is too high because your body can not produce a hormone called insulin.
• Approximately 10% of 4 million people with diabetes in the UK have type 1, but it has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle – it just happens.
• When you have type 1 diabetes, your body affects the cells in your pancreas that produce insulin, so you can not make it – and we all need insulin to live because it allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and fuels our fuel. bodies.
• Symptoms include going to the toilet often, extreme thirst and fatigue and weight loss because, with glucose unable to enter cells to give you energy, the body has to break down fat storage to provide the fuel it needs.
• If you have type 1 diabetes, you will get insulin in your body by injecting it or by using an insulin pump that delivers a constant supply to you. You should also check that your blood glucose levels are not too low or too high by using a blood glucose tester several times a day. When you start taking insulin, you will start to feel better and your blood glucose levels will drop.
• With the right treatment and care, the long-term effects of diabetes and high glucose levels can be managed effectively.
"I ordered her medication for her to make sure she had it on hand, then I would send it and bring it home The only thing I could not do was to put it in her body.
"Her death was completely preventable, but when I look back, I do not know what else we could have done.
"Now, if we can save one life, or prevent one set of parents from going through what we're going through, it's worth it.
"She would be shocked if we tell everyone about it, but if we can save someone from sitting here, doing things like this … that's what we want.
"I have taken people through my work and it has helped their lives, it is heartbreaking that I could not do it for her."
• Visit the gofundme page here. And for more information about diabetes, visit this website.