Modelling, insulin pumps, make-up and studying. This is all in the life of Zoné Oberholzer, a Type 1 diabetes patient and a Miss Supranational SA 2019 finalist.
Zoné Oberholzer (21) lives in Pretoria, Gauteng. She is an Education (BEd) student at Aros University.
The young Pretoria beauty recently celebrated her 21stbirthday which came at an apt time as she just finished her first year June exams. We caught up with the model to find out how she has handled living with Type 1 diabetes for 17 years.
When were you diagnosed?
In September 2002. I was four years old. My nursery school teacher mentioned to my mom that I was no longer playing outside and that I was constantly thirsty. She suggested that we see a doctor, where upon I was diagnosed.
I spent a week in hospital where my blood glucose was stabilised, and my parents were educated about Type 1 diabetes. The doctor said the most likely cause was the chickenpox virus which I had contracted nine months earlier.
I started using a pump (Medtronic Minimed Paradigm) at age six. My mother decided it would be easier for me to be on pump therapy before I started school. This helped my parents to regulate my blood glucose levels.
They educated the teachers in using it. We, however, quickly learnt that it would be best for me to handle my own pump. This forced me from a very young age to know my pump and also calculate carbohydrates. Although, it was very difficult to start off with, it helped me to manage my condition from an early age and to take responsibility.
The insulin pump only operates on short-acting insulin (NovaRapid). I think it makes life easier to not have to use a long-acting insulin as well.
When did you start modelling?
As soon as I was diagnosed, my mother decided to boost my self-confidence by enrolling me to do a modelling course. Since then it has been an absolute passion. Not only has it motivated me to look after myself, but it has inspired me to use it as a platform to promote diabetes awareness.
Did modelling boost your confidence as your mom hoped?
Modelling definitely boosted my confidence. But, it was a learning process throughout all the years to eventually bear the fruit. It definitely takes the correct attitude to use the experiences I learned from modelling for a positive growth experience. It stays crucial to seek your identity in Christ and not in modelling.
Why did you enter Miss Supranational SA 2019?
I entered as I saw it as an opportunity and platform to make a difference. Especially, among the diabetic community.
Miss Supranational South Africa 2019 focuses primarily on social upliftment. It creates a platform for finalists and winners to achieve their goals within the pageant, entertainment and business industries.
I am so grateful to be a finalist and thankful for the opportunity. The winner will be announced on 27 July at the Arto Theatre.
Have you been in any other contests?
Yes. Besides some smaller contests, I am currently a title holder (Apprentesses Charity 1st Princess) for Apprentesses SA. I was also a finalist for Top Model South Africa.
Do you proudly wear your insulin pump during modelling competitions?
In the past I would hide my pump as I was ashamed. I saw diabetes as my identity. This led me to hide myself from the world, but I realised that diabetes is only a part of me. A part of me that I should embrace and be proud of. This only happened after school.
It is my goal to wear my insulin pump with pride at Miss Supranational SA. It’s not always easy as pageant dresses don’t always cater for an insulin pump. But, I will definitely wear it if the costumes allows.
Has it been easy to manage your diabetes?
No. It hasn’t been easy. Nonetheless, I’m grateful for the lessons learnt through my diabetes journey. Every day has its highs and lows. One just has to learn how to deal with it and not run away from it.
I would definitely not exchange living with diabetes for an easier life, because the lessons I’ve learned and keep on learning are far too valuable. The hardships of this condition empower me to empower those around me with positivity.
What are the highs of having diabetes?
There’s a valuable lesson that diabetes teaches every day. From a lighter viewpoint, you will live a healthier life than the average person out there. This is because you must be sensitive to what you eat, what you do, how you do things, and where you do things.
What are the lows of having diabetes?
Personally, the low is that no matter how healthy and cautious you live, there is always the risk of unexpected blood glucose drops and highs.
Do you follow any any special diet?
I’m not on a special diet, but I do follow a balanced healthy diet. I eat according to my blood glucose levels. I give my body what it needs. Not what it wants.
Do you make use of sweeteners?
My mother raised me to be a healthy child living with diabetes. She taught me from an early stage that sweeteners aren’t necessary to live a happy full life.
What helps you the most to manage your diabetes?
My support system, my family, boyfriend and, most importantly, God! If it wasn’t for Him, I wouldn’t have made it this far. He turned my misery into a ministry.
Tell us how puberty affected your blood glucose
Puberty took my blood glucose levels on a roller coaster. My menstruation also affected my blood glucose levels. I usually struggle with a higher blood glucose level during menstruation.
We wish Zoné all the best for the finals of Miss Supranational SA 2019.
Photos by Kayleigh Kruger
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org