When Feda’a Yaseen was 14 she received some news that was to change her life forever.
The blossoming Taekwondo star was told that she was suffering from Type A Diabetes, a condition that has stopped many a promising sports career in its tracks.
But more than a decade on, Feda’a, now aged 25, has not felt sorry for herself for a minute but, instead, has battled her condition to become one of Jordan’s top fighters.
And with Jordan facing a health crisis due to bad choices leading to unhealthy lifestyles, Feda’a has decided to speak out on World Diabetes Day (November 14) to highlight the role that sport can play in turning anyone’s life around.
“It was a shock to receive that news in 2007 and I could have just given up,” said Feda’a.
“But I am so glad that I didn’t. I loved Taekwondo and wanted to represent my country one day.
Everything had changed with that news but it didn’t have to mean that sport could no longer be in my life.
Quite the opposite in fact, it has become even more important.”
Following the news, she took a year off to gather her thoughts and decide what to do.
She read a lot about the condition and realised that she could continue to play top flight sport.
She returned to Taekwondo fully aware of how to manage her condition. “I wanted to come back at a professional level while using Taekwondo to fight Diabetes as well,” she said.
“It provides a constant challenge but as an athlete you learn to tackle these challenges face to face. It won’t beat me. “Everyone was thinking that I would just give up and become lazy, watching TV.
But the first thing I did was to go back to the gym and start again.”
With rigorous training, Feda’a has four-six meals every day and consistently monitors her blood sugar levels. She has the added pressure of being a Business Administration student, so spare time is at a premium.
According to the International Diabetes Federation, sport can be played by someone with Diabetes, providing they are sensible, and Feda’a wants to use her high profile to spread the word.
“I want to send a message for all people with Diabetes to stay active,” she said.
“I practice sport every single day for up to four hours. This is what helps me to forget that I even have a condition.”
Jordan’s Diabetes statistics are shocking with 46% of Jordanian adults suffering from the disease.
Worldwide, there are over 199 million women living with Diabetes and this total is projected to increase to 313 million by 2040.
Gender roles and power dynamics influence vulnerability to Diabetes, affect access to health services and health seeking behavior for women, and amplify the impact of diabetes on women.
Diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women globally, causing 2.1 million deaths each year.
But with people like Feda’a leading the fightback, it is important that her advice to “stay active, and enjoy your healthy life” is sent far and wide.