In Loving Memory of Sian Howarth
Everyone thinks that their best friend is the best, right? Well, I think everyone thought my best friend was the best too...
Sian lived, sleeped (not so much this perhaps) and breathed DWED. I swear, we couldn’t go anywhere without her telling random people about the charity. A simple trip to the shops to get a pint of milk would result in her chatting the leg off someone about DWED. Even one normal weekday night spent at home developed into her being on Liverpool’s local radio station spreading the word about diabulimia and the help that is available. She never stopped.
Sian’s role in DWED was no doubt quite tough and difficult for her at times, and I sometimes questioned her if she was up to what she was doing. As we all know though, her passion for helping young girls in need made her the trooper she was and in many cases, a life saviour. All I would ever hear was positive comments. The way in which a Mother is so proud of her child at making their first baby steps, was often mirrored in the way in which Sian would express her feelings of all the girls she helped and formed relationships with over the years. No matter how small or big of a step someone had taken in terms of their road to recovery from their eating disorder, she always expressed an overwhelming state of being very proud; that somehow put those around her in a good mood too.
I could continue to write copious amounts of wonderful things about my very wonderful friend and it is probably possible that I could write a whole novel on the memories we shared. However, let me take a little moment to tell you why Sian was the best to me….
We found ourselves becoming close friends almost instantly and before I knew it we were joined at the hip. Thought the same thoughts and finished each other’s sentences. We were soul mates.
Over the next eleven years, we went through thick and thin; sharing many happy times together and some sad ones too. We partied hard, made millions of friends, spent far too much money and in essence, had a ‘bloody ball’! After both realising that life wasn’t one big party we both decided to knuckle down. Sian became a talented primary school teacher and I could tell she was amazing at her job. The following few years saw Sian at probably her worst time but she came out the other end fighting. Although I did know how sick Sian was at this time, I didn’t know that Sian was manipulating her insulin and the reason for why she was so poorly. However, despite that, I loved her even more for finding the strength and courage to come through everything she did. After discovering that Sian was diabulimic, as a non-diabetic, I became intrigued to learn more about this unheard of disorder. The work I watched Sian do for DWED, as well as the love and support she gave me, encouraged me to quit my job in Germany and return home to complete a second degree in dietetics, with intent to specialise in diabetes. Sian and I had just started the next chapter of lives together, living with each other in London and ready to cause havoc… again. Upon reflection of the week running up to Sian’s passing, I can honestly say it was the best. I can’t help but think about all of the happy endings we could have shared.
One happy ending that is possible however, is for us to come together and to continue all of Sian’s hard work to make DWED get the recognition it deserves, and ultimately help anyone that is in need of support as a result of being affected by diabulimia. I know if we all lean on each other and do this for Sian, those affected will come out of this at the other end fighting too.
Baby steps girls… baby steps…. Xx
I have been wondering exactly what to write here.
I remember the first time I met her was at the houses of parliament for a debate on Type 1 Diabetes. When George Howarth said the word, 'Diabulimia' I nearly fell off my chair!! I was so desperate to speak to him that I nearly burst through the rail to give him my business card. He took a look at it smiled and told me to meet him outside, heart racing I walked out the room and saw this beautiful, tall blonde bombshell of a girl standing next to him, introducing her as his Daughter, Sian told me she was just saying that someone should be doing something about diabulimia and I told her, I am, and I really need help.
And that was that.
Sian was so easy to talk to, I told her things that I've never told anyone and I know I'm not alone in that. Sian could put you at ease, talk you off the ledge, make things better, cheer you up in a heartbeat. She was a rare individual, she really truly cared and she gave everything of herself and asked for nothing in return. You can read her story here
She was also, often unwell, something I think I forgot as she really did 'live' with her diabetes. She had a lot of complications, not that she ever moaned or complained about them, like I said she really did her best to get on with living.
In the weeks preceding her death Sian and I had both ended up in the back of ambulances due to hypos. we laughed about it, what else could we do but keep on going, keep on laughing, never let it get you down. I think perhaps we were in our own little DWED bubble, I think that sometimes everyone builds a bubble, what are you supposed to do let diabetes rule your every waking moment, every thought? As of yet we don't know exactly what contributed to Sian's death but I can tell you that she was taking her insulin.
Sian was loved by everyone and she loved all of us in return. DWED will never forget her and I swear her legacy will outlive us all. If you would like to make a donation in Sian's memory please do so via paypal, just giving or by send a cheque to DWED c/o Mclean and Stewrt Solicitors, 51/53 High Street, Dunblane FK15 0EG
I read this and thought of Sian
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
- Elizabeth Kubler Ross
I wanted to write my memory and thanks to Sian and all of your works at DWED, my, now 27yr old daughter has diabulimia, she has been stricken with this nightmare for 7 yrs. I started searching for help, anywhere, at Drs. mental health providers, hospitals, no one understood it. Her endochronologist said she was out of his scope of care and then sent her home with me..what was I to do, I didn't have an education, I was not a professional?! How could this be! So I turned to the internet and started searching the word diabulimia, I started taking information with us to the emergency room, the drs. the therapists..I was becoming the educator and I needed help! Then I saw the website DWED and I left a comment, and Sian got a hold of me immediately. OH MY GOD! Someone else knows about this! What a relief! It was at the most desperate time ever, Elizabeth was at her lowest point ever and I was so scared. Sian began IM'ing me, at all hours of the night, giving advice, encouraging me, supporting me, talking me through it. I wondered did she ever sleep, we are in Oregon, USA and the time difference is great, and she'd be there on line everytime I needed her, I was finally able to tell someone how I felt, someone knew how Elizabeth felt, it was so comforting. She tried over and over to reach my daughter, getting up at odd hours to reach her when Elizabeth would be awake. She never stopped. Elizabeth went through hell this past year and without Sian, it would have been so much worse. Elizabeth and I are so grateful for Sian and all of you at DWED for your support and encouragement. Elizabeth hit a rough patch at Sians passing and I think shes pulling through. I don't think Sian realized how many lives she touched. I miss her popping up on my chat bar, I miss her telling me that I'm a great mum, when I feel like a failure, I just miss her. Sian, you were loved by so many people, even if we never met face to face. We love and miss you.
Betty, Elizabeth and Michelle Tomas, Springfield, Oregon USA
This is one of the hardest things I've ever had to write. And I never thought I'd be here. Choosing the words to explain just how much Sian did for me is literally an impossible task, and it's hard to believe that one girl can change (and save) so many lives across the world. But that's what she did.
Sian was one of the most rare women I've ever had the chance to meet. She had the biggest heart - and I know that this is a phrase that tends to get thrown around like it's nothing, but in this case, there's nothing that could be truer. Sian and I spent countless nights chatting back and forth on Facebook, her providing me with endless amounts of support, and me trying to make her laugh about whatever it was she was dealing with at the time. I knew I could always message her at any hour and she'd be there with exactly what I needed, whether it was a laugh, a cry, or a talk back from the edge. (I'm no longer ashamed to admit that I contemplated suicide almost every day, but Sian showed me that life truly is worth living). I always couldn't wait to share with her, whatever progress I had made in my own eating disordered life. It was almost as if it wasn't real unless Sian told me how much she was proud of me, and how much she loved me.
Her love was endless. Even when I KNEW she was having a rough time with her diabetes, she would never allow our conversations to steer towards that direction. I'd try and persuade her to bitch and complain (after all, don't we all need that sometimes...?) but she'd ALWAYS, without fail, call me silly and tell me not to worry about her. Her strength constantly gave me hope that one day I could be happy and deal with whatever came my way with grace and dignity. And hopefully be a beacon of light for other girls who fight with the same eating disorder we share - just like she was - every day.
I'm proud to say that it's been just over a month that I've been taking one hundred percent care of myself, my diabetes, and my body... and I know that I'd never have made it to this point if it wasn't for Sian. She changed my entire outlook on life. And from this day forward, every single ounce of fight I have left in me - is dedicated to her memory. I love you so much Siannypants. I know we've been continents apart since the first day we started talking, but you were one of my absolute best friends. I hope you're up there partying with the greats... we're still down here, fighting Sian's Army forever. xo
Sian Howarth is a Tour de Force!
I can't use the past tense because she is still here, still inspiring so many of the people, friends whose lives she touched.I never got to meet Sian, or even speak on the phone with her, which is something I shall regret forever. My experience was mainly from the background, or in a wee IM chat when I managed to track her down. I was usually chasing her for her newsletter submissions or the like, which she always bore with good natured, self effacing humour.
She struck me as beautiful, inside and out, amazing would be an appropriate word. I marvel at the fact that there are so many people, the length and breadth of the world in fact, who's lives have been touched, mine included by Sian. Lives changed for the better, diverted from crisis or brought back from the brink with her support. Parents and peers alike, it seems she took the time to aid and comfort everyone who needed it. It is a testament how many people miss her and crucially how many are still fighting this condition in her memory.
I first came to know Sian over Facebook about 3 years ago. I run a social group for 18-30’s with diabetes and she was interested in coming along as she had just moved to my area. She came to a meet up and shared her experiences of the complications of diabetes as well as her fab liverpuddlian accent! I liked her straight away. Over the years we would chat over facebook and text every now and then and she attended a couple more young d events. One of which was a day trip to Southend, it was a pretty rainy day but we had loads of fun on the rides and chatting. We bought a group picture of us all on a rollercoaster and you can’t see Sian’s face because she was hiding with fear!! Haha. She also came to a picnic in summer 2010, it was a boiling hot day and we all sat round eating and drinking. It was lots of fun, especially Sian accidentally spilling Pimms all over herself hehe, think we were all a bit tipsy!
Sian was a warm and generous kind hearted person that will be missed by so many. Circle D (my group) have been moved by her passing and we displayed her picture at our last meet to remember her. It’s only in the last year or so since DWED started that I have learnt about the link between diabetes and eating disorders. I’m type one myself but ED is not something I have lived with personally. I think it’s great what DWED are doing in reaching out to others and raising awareness, and it’s clear that Sian was an amazing source of support to so many and will continue to be. I am so very proud of Jacq for striving forward and being so strong and keeping the group going. I’m sure Sian is very proud of you up in heaven in them big ole heels!!!
More recently Sian couldn’t make my birthday plans as she was on holiday. She came back from holiday and we spent about two months trying to plan to meet up as she had bought me some gifts from holiday (so sweet). The date we finally settled on was the day that ended up being her funeral. I couldn’t come to her funeral because of work but instead I went to the park with a friend where we had the picnic last year and let off some blue balloons. It was funny because there was no breeze so we decided to lay them down in a circle as we had sat at the picnic. I could just imagine Sian cracking up at my efforts!!
Whenever I see Pimms or sparkly high heeled shoes I will remember you Sian as well as when I hear a Liverpool accent!!
Party on with the angels gorgeous girl....
Shelley x x x x x
I’ve been trying to find the “perfect” words but the truth is there are none, Sian was such a beautiful soul and I could never do her memory justice.
I smile when I remember the first time we met, she was strikingly beautiful and I was surprised when she spoke in her Scouser twang.
Despite fighting her own battles Sian always had time for others. She was there for you night and day and never made you feel you were a hassle, nothing was too much trouble.
She exuded a joy for life which she shared with each and every one of us who was blessed to have known her.
Her memory will continue to inspire us as she did, Sian we love you and miss you always, rest in peace Babycakes x
I still have the first ever message Sian ever sent me, and the first time I ever properly talked to her. It was Autumn 2010, and I was maybe getting in two or three injections , tops, of lantus every week, and no fast acting. My neuropathy had gotten so much worse from a summer job spent on my feet for 13 hour shifts, and I was completely miserable. I got a friend request from a stunning blonde girl, with whom I’d a few mutuals, alongside a message, telling me she worked with Jacq and not only that, but she had cripplingly bad neuropathy too, that she understood far too well how painful it was, and how much it could get you down. It was the first time I had properly spoken to anyone at length about how agonising I was finding all the complications, even though I was unable to increase my insulin.
It was Sian that I first told about my increasingly bad stomach complications, and it was her advice I asked about what to do for it….and its embarrassing side effects. The fact that Sian could make me feel less embarrassed, less worried and even laugh about it, is just an example of the kind of personality she had- calming, reassuring and above all else, she could make the best out of a truly appalling situation.
It was Sian who I could always have a rant and a rave to at half four in the morning, when neither of us could sleep due to neuropathy. I remember the most ridiculous conversation we had, round about the end of August, with her asking me “Do flies fly?” myself responding with “Do fleas flee?….” and so, this mad conversation continued into the wee hours of the night. No wonder Sian got so much joy out of teaching- she was still part kid herself!
It was Sian who spent over an hour on the phone with me when I was so unhappy at uni at the start of this year, and decided I wasn’t going to do any insulin anymore, and “just die.” It was Sian that convinced me to take insulin, but also, to phone an ambulance- something that was no mean bloody feat. If she hadn’t gotten a degree as a teacher, Sianny would have made an excellent hostage negotiator. Or possibly a salesperson, given the amount of times she persuaded people to do what they thought they wouldn't/ couldn't…I.e insulin
When Jacq told me Sian had died, I thought she was playing a pretty sick joke at first, because it was so unbelievable someone so hugely important to so many peoples lives, and someone who had quite literally saved more than a few lives, wasn’t going to live out the rest of hers. It’s still unbelievable, impossible to grasp, and phenomenally bitter-tasting, over a month on.
I’ve been taking every dose of insulin for the past three weeks now. Sure, its not the longest amount of time, but it’s a step in the right direction. I owe it to Sian to at least make the effort, when she made that amount of effort (and more!) every day, with the work she did for DWED, the amount she cared for and tried to motivate us all, and the sheer amount of time she spent just listening. Thank you SO MUCH Sianny. I can’t actually express how much I owe you. Love you hen.