Sharon Sampie – Living her best life

Sharon Sampie has lived with Type 2 diabetes for over 20 years and has been living her best life. She tells us all about her adventures.

Sharon Sampie (60) lives in Plumstead, Cape Town. She is divorced. 

Type 2 diagnosis

Sharon was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in her late thirties. The diagnosis came about when she had a routine medical check-up and one of the outcomes was that Sharon had pre-diabetes.

“Due to both my parents having diabetes and testing my blood glucose regularly as I was an active advanced life support paramedic at the time, I knew that there was a high possibility of me developing diabetes too. I had a good understanding of diabetes due to my career choice,” she explains.

The 60-year-old is insulin-dependent (short- and long-acting) and also takes metformin tablets. She still finger-pricks to test her blood glucose once a day, sometimes twice.

Managing hypos

Sharon says she has experienced many hypo episodes. One being when she was walking the Camino from Portugal to Spain in 2019. “Obviously I took insulin and didn’t eat enough and did too much strenuous activity. But thankfully, I had everything on hand to correct it. Unfortunately, the reason for me experiencing many hypos is due to not eating enough.” She adds that the insulin bag she bought from Diabetes South Africa came in handy for this trip, to keep her insulin cold.

She goes on to say that managing her diabetes consists of taking her medication and testing her blood glucose daily. “I’m also very conscious of cutting out carbohydrates, especially rice, pasta and potatoes. So, I replace potatoes with sweet potatoes and eat very little rice and when I do I use Tastic Rice as this brand has a lower glycaemic index. The recommended pasta brands for people with diabetes is Mr Pasta and Pasta Grande. This info I got from two books namely Eat Smart and Stay Slim – The GI Diet and Dr Atkins’ New Diet Revolution.”

Unfortunately, my exercise programme has been much reduced, but I need to get it up again. I was an avid hiker when I was younger. I have a treadmill at home that I should spend much more time on. “

Sharon walked 260km from Porto, Portugal to Santiago, Spain in 2019.

Sharon walked approximately 260km from Porto, Portugal to Santiago, Spain in 2019.

Lions Club International

Sharon has been a member of Lions Club International since 2006; she belongs to the Bergvliet Lions Club. She was elected as the District 410w Chairperson for diabetes in July 2022; this district comprises Namibia, Northern Cape and Western Cape. Due to this new role, she contacted Diabetes South Africa to see how she could get involved. A project was discussed but at the time Sharon couldn’t assist.

However, she asked about transportation of children to the upcoming Camp Diabetable Western Cape. Margot McCumisky, national manager of DSA, explained that this was one of the biggest hurdles as a bus company had quoted R6 000.

Sharon knew she could assist as she works for the Department of Health Emergency Services and manages the transport for non-emergency transport. “I got authorisation to transport the children as they are children with a health issue. It gave me great joy to be able to offer this service. I picked up kids from three provincial hospitals and took them to the camp site.”

Sharon with some on the children she transported to Camp Diabetable.

Sharon with some on the children she transported to Camp Diabetable.



World Diabetes Day

As part of the Athlone Lions Club in collaboration with Groote Schuur Hospital, Sharon joined by assisting with the free testing station in the hospital’s main passage way this past World Diabetes Day. She says many of the staff as well as patients got tested.

My message to newly diagnosed patients is, “It’s really all about nutrition and exercise, avoidance or smaller portions of carbohydrates and sugar.”

Since Sharon is a Lions Club International ambassador for diabetes, she grabs any opportunity to do online assessments or awareness. “Once I went camping with friends and I even took my banner with and at the camp site I did some online assessments. When a person asks a question, I will go on and explain as much as I can.”

Sharon doing blood glucose tests for World Diabetes Day at Groote Schuur Hospital.

Sharon doing blood glucose tests for World Diabetes Day at Groote Schuur Hospital.


Laurelle Williams is the Editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Feel free to email Laurelle on [email protected]

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