Editor’s note: This blog was written by Ginger Vieira, special contributor to Breakthrough T1D. 

Even royalty are affected by the challenges of type 1 diabetes (T1D): Princess Padmaja Kumari Parmar was diagnosed with T1D at 5 years old—more than 40 years ago.  

Born in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India—and currently living in Boston, MA—Princess Padmaja has experienced the same challenges that affect all people with T1D: misinformation, stigma, and lack of access to the critical tools and medications people with T1D need to survive. 

“Everyone’s voice matters,” she said. “I also suffered through a lot of stigma and I did get a lot of negative pushback. You know what? It’s okay. I think it’s more on them than on me.” 

 Today, Princess Padmaja is working to combat the stigma of T1D as a Global Ambassador for Breakthrough T1D. 

Growing up with T1D  

While she would welcome a cure like anyone else, Princess Padmaja knows living with T1D has taught her skills that many people don’t start learning at 5 years old. 

“I am grateful to have been diagnosed with T1D at such a young age,” she said. “Growing up with this condition instilled in me a sense of discipline and responsibility that has remained present throughout my life.” 

“It taught me resilience, self-awareness, and the importance of self-care—lessons that extend far beyond managing blood sugar levels,” she continued. 

When she was diagnosed, tools and insulin options for managing T1D were limited. Back then, checking your blood glucose levels or dosing insulin based on carbohydrate quantities wasn’t even possible.  

“Witnessing the progression of T1D breakthroughs over the years has been nothing short of remarkable,” said Princess Padmaja. “When I first started insulin injections, it was a cumbersome routine, requiring multiple injections a day. Today, thanks to advancements in insulin pump technology, managing T1D has become more streamlined and efficient, improving my quality of life.” 

Fighting against misinformation 

Today, the amount of misinformation about diabetes drives Princess Padmaja to speak up for herself and for her peers. In India, she has found that, unfortunately, people with T1D have been taught that misinformation—and some have adopted it,   

She especially worries about the effect this has on younger people with T1D and how it shapes their beliefs about their future. 

 “I strive to combat the misinformation head-on, dispel the myths, and educate,” Princess Padmaja added. “I want to instill hope and confidence in those facing this condition. I want to say: you are not defined by your diagnosis. There is a fulfilling life that still lies ahead of you!” 

Life in India for people with T1D 

 “As a global ambassador for Breakthrough T1D, my aspirations do extend beyond borders,” she said. “The challenges surrounding T1D are not exclusive to India; they are present globally.” 

Princess Padmaja is working to address those challenges by collaborating with Breakthrough T1D and other impactful organizations. She also hopes to inspire changes within the government’s policies that could support people with T1D and within India’s healthcare system. 

These global issues include diagnosing the condition before severe diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), getting access to affordable insulin, and getting blood glucose monitoring supplies. Princess Padmaja stressed that this lack of education on the early symptoms of T1D affects rural areas of India the most. 

 India is not screening for the earliest stages of T1D or its most obvious symptoms. This lack of awareness of structured T1D education in the healthcare system means children are enduring life-threatening blood glucose levels and diabetic ketoacidosis for weeks or months after a diagnosis could have been established. 

 “By rallying support and implementing these measures, I can help tackle these challenges, ultimately improving the quality of life for those with T1D,” she said. 

Your dreams are possible 

Amidst fighting for access to the critical basics—affordable insulin and glucose monitoring tools—Princess Padmaja knows she must reach the hearts and minds of young people, too. 

“At the core of my mission, and where my heart lies, is a focus on young children diagnosed with T1D,” she said. “Ensuring they feel safe and empowered to pursue their dreams.” 

 “Dream big and pursue your aspirations with unwavering determination! T1D is not a barrier to your dreams,” she said, passionately.  

She acknowledges there will be many difficult days, too. 

“Yes, there will be challenging days, but who doesn’t have those? Let’s not attribute every setback to T1D,” said Princess Padmaja. “Don’t allow the negative noise surrounding this condition to overshadow your potential and aspirations.” 

T1D, she says, is part of your journey. 

“Remember, you have strength, courage, and resilience to overcome any obstacles that come your way,” she said. “Dream big. Pursue your passions! And never let T1D dim your light.”