A father of a teenager has shared the heart-breaking reality of his son’s type 1 diabetes journey.

Cole Jones from Kearsley was coming up to the age of 13 when he was first diagnosed, and he is now 18.

Rich – Cole’s dad – says at the time him and his wife Sara didn’t know anything about the symptoms Cole was experiencing.

Cole had been losing weight and going to the toilet a lot, and having dizzy spells, as well as his eating habits changing.

Rich said: “We thought he was going to be 13 and turning into a teen, so maybe it was his hormones, and he was going through a growth spurt.

“We didn’t connect the dots.

The Bolton News:

“We have three other children and it’s hard in itself, and as a family it’s a full commitment.

“It was like someone punched a hole in my chest and ripped my heart out.”

When Cole was first diagnosed Rich says that him and his wife had sleepless nights, having to check Cole regularly, checking his bloods, and insulin levels.

He added: "For the first two to three years it was really difficult for us both.

"If people have not seen it, it's really difficult to explain.

"As a parent you feel guilty because you think it's your fault, but the doctors explained that it's nothing that we have done as parents; it's a malfunction in his body that has happened.

"We are not asking for people to feel sorry for us, we just want to raise awareness of the symptoms and how our life changed.

The Bolton News:

"There's nothing you can do.

"All we can do as Cole's parents is to make sure he looks after himself, he's eating and drinking, he's positive, and he's giving himself the right amount of insulin."

It has had such a huge impact on the family, and Rich says that they are all fighting it together.

He says that there can be real downsides to it, and it is not a side that people are always aware of.

One of the major differences with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, Rich says is that you can work to get rid of type 2, but this is not the case with type 1.

He said: "Type 1 is life maintaining.

"The pancreas stops working and stops protecting the insulin, and people with type 1 are insulin dependent for the rest of their life.

"If it is not maintained it can become serious or life-threatening.

The Bolton News:

"The person could lose their eyesight."

Now Cole has an insulin pump which contains three days' worth of insulin, attached by a canular, which calculates how much insulin is needed once the information is inputted.

This means that Cole doesn't need to have injections in his arm now.

Rich said: "It's easier now than it was in the beginning.

"I can only imagine what he has to go through.

"I would swap places in a heartbeat so he wouldn't have to suffer and go through the things he goes through, but you can't change that fact."

Cole has still continued to live his life despite the diagnosis and he is at Bury College studying criminology, psychology, and English language.

Rich said: "It's not holding him back and he's doing really well.

"We want people to know that things are there and they do get better.

"If there are families who are in the same situation as ourselves and they need someone to talk to other than a GP or nurse, we are open to that, whether it's a cup of coffee or a chat."

Their journey inspired Rich to set up his own clothing business in 2018, aimed at raising awareness for other families going through the same thing.

Part of what Rich makes from CJ's Tees is donated to Diabetes UK.

The t-shirts are made from 100 per cent recycled material, made by Tee Mill, and they take a portion of money before the rest comes back to Rich.

To support the cause click here (cjstees.teemill.com).

If you have a story and something you would like to highlight in the community, please email me at jasmine.jackson@newsquest.co.uk or DM me on Twitter @JournoJasmine.