Meet Lurina Fourie, wife, step-mom, photographer, songwriter, and Type 1 diabetes advocate brought up, and currently living in South Africa.
Lurina was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 16. It has been a long road for her, and what it means for her day-to-day life, which she admits, is “sometimes good, and sometimes bad.”
Nineteen years after her initial diagnosis, Lurina and her husband, Steyn Fourie, released their first song together, “Attitude of Gratitude,” earlier this month, just ahead of #WorldDiabetesDay, on November 14th.
The song will be running together with an awareness campaign in the month of November. The lyrics on the song are written by Lurina and sung by Steyn.
While the couple resides in South Africa, creating and releasing the song was an international community project. The music video features photos of people living with T1D from all over the world.
“I have come across so many people living with Type 1, ready to give up, or struggling with depression and I came to the conclusion that sometimes we just want people to understand that T1D is a 365, 24/7 thing, we just want them to acknowledge the things we do, just to stay alive” Lurina tells dLife in an exclusive interview.
“That’s when I started searching for songs about diabetes and came across quite a few on YouTube, but none of them really made me feel better,” she says, “I felt drained just after listening to them because so many focused on the negativities of diabetes.”
Lurina acknowledges there are many negative points to having diabetes, but she thought it would be nice to not just focus on what’s wrong with living with T1D, but what is right about living with T1D.
“Having Type 1 has taught me many things, for example how to be committed, self-sufficient and strong and to never ever give up,” Lurina explains.
“I wanted the lyrics to bring hope and inspiration: imagine a mother and T1D child listening to the song on their way to school, singing it out loud and making it their anthem. I wanted to acknowledge the strengths we portray every day and I wanted people to feel uplifted after listening to it.”
Lurina explains that the main message of the song doesn’t actually focus on T1D, it focusses on having a chronic condition– which is not T1D, rather it is the “attitude of gratitude.”
“I am hoping that after listening to the song and by singing along over and over again, people will create their own attitude of gratitude,” Lurina adds. “While writing it, I also realized that many people need upliftment, whether diabetic or not, each and every person has to face his or her own giants and the song is generic enough that just about anyone can relate to it.”
When Lurina was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a teenager, she saw diabetes as a huge problem. It became a huge blow to her self-esteem at the time.
“It felt as if the word ‘diabetic’ was carved into my forehead and I didn’t feel like seeing other people,” she recalls. “I felt labeled, and to this day, I can’t fully understand why it made such a huge impact on my emotional wellbeing.”
Today, she realizes that as a teenager you just want to fit in and not be the odd one out. “Luckily those feelings have subsided and I live a full and happy life.”
Many people around the world don’t want to be labeled that they are a “diabetic,” and instead, prefer the phrase, “I have diabetes,” because they do not want to be defined by a word.
And Lurina was once one of them. But today, she sees it differently:
“I am a diabetic– but I am a photographer, I am ambitious, I am friendly, I am focused, I am hardworking, I am honest, and I am motivated. It is a complete part of who I am. Just like my diabetes,” she says. “I can’t hide from it. It doesn’t define me, but like all the other aspects of my life, I am all of those things combined, including diabetes.”
An Unexpected Love Story
When Lurina was a young adult, she remembers looking in the mirror and thinking nobody would ever want to be in a relationship with her because of her diabetes.
She reveals that phrases like “no one will want to be with you with you,” or “you will be such a drag in a relationship,” were just some of the thoughts that crossed her mind as a teenager.
But when she was 19, things suddenly shifted for her when she met Steyn, the love of her life.
“We didn’t plan to meet each other and we also didn’t plan to fall in love… but it happened and we couldn’t stop it,” Lurina says. “Not everyone was excited for us, because of a large age gap, and the fact that Steyn had children from a previous marriage, but we continued our love story and married 18 months later.”
When Lurina met Steyn, he knew absolutely nothing about diabetes. The first time Steyn saw Lurina take an insulin shot at a restaurant, he thought she was using drugs and asked about it.
“I gave a quick explanation– just enough to inform him of the reality of Type 1, but little enough to not scare him away,” she says.
Her explanation didn’t make him leave to this day.
“I’m still not sure whether it was because he didn’t know what he was signing up for, or whether he just loved me too much to care about the rest,” she admits.
Fast forward to today, 15 years later, and Lurina salutes her husband for always staying in touch with her diabetic needs.
“No matter the time of day or night, he is only a whisper away. I want to thank him for never guilt-tripping me about my diabetes and the fact that it impacts our lives. I want to hug him and hold him tight and say ‘thanks, you mean the world to me.’
Lurina also wants to encourage all the single people out there to never give their hopes of finding the right person.
“I was fortunate to meet the right person at a young age, even though I thought it would never happen, because of my diabetes,” she says. “I am proud of myself for not making my husband my punching bag, and I am proud of myself for realizing that I need help every now and then. But I am even more proud of Steyn, for loving all of me, all the time and making it seem so effortless.”
Lurina says most young women dream of a fairy tale, where prince charming sweeps her off her feet. But the reality is that’s not always the case.
“I never thought there were are any diabetic princesses around, but today I realized that because of Steyn, I feel like a princess and I can confirm that diabetic princesses are real– we just need a proper partner to point it out to us!”
Lurina’s pure and simple vision for her song is to spread happy vibes and make people feel good about themselves.
“People with T1D have the tendency to make people feel bad about themselves,” she says, “That’s why I called the song ‘Attitude of Gratitude.’ If we can embrace each day with an attitude of gratitude, there will be so much more to be thankful for and that will make our problems and worries easier to deal with,” she says.
What she loves most about the project, is that it started out as a small seed in South Africa, but quickly became an international project when she turned to social media and asked people from all over the world to share their photos for the music video.
“We took our own money, talents and time and followed our hearts,” Lurina says. “There is no financial gain for us. It is also not a world hit on all the music charts, and I am okay with that,” she says. “The comments I receive, the honest truth people share about how the song impacts them and how it makes them feel — that can never ever be measured or justified with money, but it deposits so many phenomenal thoughts into my heart, I love it!”
Lurina hopes the song will go viral and that people will have the pure pleasure to hit the share button, not only with fellow T1’s but with each and everyone who can benefit from it.
“We all face our own giants and I know for a fact that the lyrics can brighten up someone’s day, even if it happens one person at a time, a win is a win, no matter how small,” she says.
Featured image above: Lurina Fourie.