When their father, Geoff, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 50, brothers Ian and Anthony Whitington were not hugely surprised, and for 10 years, they drifted along and watched from the sidelines.
“Dad had always been the ‘big man’,” says Anthony, 39. “As kids, we thought it was funny. Dad could drink more than anyone, he could eat more than anyone. It was his identity. That’s our dad and that’s what he does.”
“As we got older, of course we worried,” adds Ian, 37. “But everyone around us would say, ‘If he doesn’t want to change, you can’t change him. He has to do it himself.’” So nothing much was done – and Geoff joined the 3.5m adults in the UK who manage their diabetes with ever-greater doses of medication and regular check-ups.
“We were all resigned to our family roles,” says Anthony. “I was a busy financial adviser with four kids of my own. Ian was a busy cameraman with jobs all over the world. Dad was a funny fat guy who drank too much.”