Singer Amelia Lily on coping with diabetes and caring for her mother with the same condition


The singer’s mother has cared for her diabetic daughter for decades. But in 2020, the tide turned when Aranka was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

This Mothering Sunday, singer Amelia Lily wants to celebrate the special bond she has with her own mother, Aranka Bradley.

Aranka has been helping Amelia manage her type 1 diabetes since she was diagnosed at the age of three, but now the roles have been reversed and Amelia is providing emotional support to her 58-year-old mother, who died in 2020 with the same disease fell ill.

“We share a unique bond and the diagnosis has definitely brought us closer,” says the 27-year-old singer, who lives in Middlesbrough with her mother.

“While I’m sad for her because her life has changed drastically, she’s handled it so well,” says Amelia.

The singer spent her childhood dealing with diabetes, which affects around 400,000 people in the UK, including around 29,000 children.

“Mom used to tell me I would run behind the sofa to hide from my needles when I was little,” she says.

“I can’t imagine how sad that must have been for her.”

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Amelia Lily had to manage her condition from home while joining The X Factor


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While the family did their best, the condition was difficult to control.

I used to have hypo [hypoglycaemic] Seizures about once a month when my blood sugar dropped too low at night,” says Amelia.

“I got up without realizing my blood sugar had dropped, tried to go to the bathroom and fell. Mum would hear the bang and find me on the floor.

“She had to call an ambulance regularly. It must have been really hard for her, but I woke up in the hospital and had no idea what happened.”

Luckily, over the years, Amelia has learned to better control her blood sugar.

Then, in 2011, when she turned 16, she became a contestant on The X factorlives away from home for the first time.

Amelia Lily and her mother Ankara

“It was tough,” she recalls. “The X Factor was the biggest show on TV at the time and suddenly my face was in every newspaper and magazine.

“I had just moved from home and was dealing with my condition on my own for the first time, which was disheartening.”

Balancing my career, personal life and diabetes was a lot for me when I was a kid.”

Amelia had to take insulin four times a day and check her blood sugar regularly. Exploiting a lot of energy could cause her level to drop dangerously low if she doesn’t do well.

“Even something as simple as going for a walk or taking a little too much insulin can cause blood sugar to drop, so I had to be extra careful on stage,” she says.

After The X Factor, Amelia embarked on a stage career, most recently playing Princess Fiona in Shrek The Musical’s UK tour.

Then in 2020 she returned to The X Factor Malta as a guest judge and flew out with her mother to film the show.

“Mom had lost a lot of weight in the months before,” she recalls.

“She wasn’t hungry, she was very tired all the time.

“Usually she looks like an athlete. She’s always been super fit and has muscles like Popeye.

“But when we got to Malta mum said she was tired and decided to take a nap.

“Anyone who knows her understands that she usually can’t sit for more than five minutes, so I knew something was wrong.

“I weighed her and she’d lost two or three stones, so I was really worried.

“Then we ran to the train on our way home and Mum couldn’t keep up, even though she’s the fittest woman I know.”

The next day, Aranka called Amelia from work to tell her she was thirsty and her eyes were blurry and that she was going to the bathroom a lot.

“When she got home, I said, ‘Mom, I think we need to test your blood sugar,’ because she had the four T’s of diabetes: skinny, tired, thirsty, and going to the bathroom often.

“Her blood sugar was 33 and was supposed to be between four and eight, so my brother Lewis and I took her straight to the hospital.”

Aranka was quickly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

“The doctor said, ‘Can you inject yourself?’ And it was so inspiring to watch that she just took the needle and stuck it in her stomach. She didn’t hesitate and I was like, ‘What a woman,'” she laughs.

“Later, my mom, Lewis and I sat at the kitchen table and said, ‘We’re in this together now.’

“All these years she had supported me and now I had to be her support system.

“These days mom calls me when she has a hypo and we talk about how to treat her.”

Teesside singer Amelia played the lead role of Fiona in Shrek The Musical.


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Both Amelia and Aranka use Freestyle Libre, a small device worn on their arms that constantly monitors their blood sugar levels and indicates an upward or downward trend.

“I started using it in 2017 and it has completely changed my life as I no longer have to do fingerstick tests,” says Amelia.

“I used to have to prick my finger several times a day to measure my blood sugar, which caused me to lose feeling in the fingertip.

“For someone like me who has a very busy lifestyle all the time on stage and filming TV shows, to be able to scan my sensor from my phone is incredible.”

Now the singer is busy helping others living with the disease and is running in Facebook Support group with her friend Vanessa Haydock, another type 1 diabetic known as The Diabetic Health Coach.

The couple offers tips on how to deal with the disease.

“Now I’m so excited, I’m taking classes to learn more about diabetes and I’m really educated,” says Amelia.

“I know my own body so well. It was tough growing up, but it made me the strong woman I am today.

“And now, whatever happens, I know mum and I will always be there together.”

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