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My Bakken Invitation Experience

20 February 2019


The blog is contributed by Ashley Ng who has been selected as a Medtronic Bakken Invitation honouree alongside 11 others from around the world in 2018. Read more on her story.

I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 19 years old. Through the first few years of my diagnosis, I went through a very lonely journey. I didn’t fit in anywhere because people had such defined ideas of diabetes. So I did what any lonely teenager did and started blogging about my experiences and reflections of living with diabetes. As I started Bittersweet Diagnosis,I began to accept my diabetes and became determined to make positive changes in my life. I continued to share my story in the hopes that it would help others feel less lonely and more hopeful in living with diabetes.

Little did I know that this would be the springboard of my diabetes advocacy. I became more confident in navigating the diabetes online community and made connections that changed my life. The diabetes online community empowered me to take charge of my own health and made me realise that I deserved a positive support community just like any other person with diabetes. I am so grateful to the diabetes online community for enriching my life that I was determined to give back to the diabetes community. I wanted to make sure that people living with diabetes got the support they needed no matter the type of diabetes they were diagnosed with.

Suddenly (well, over the space of many years), I am not only a diabetes advocate. I am a healthcare professional, a researcher and a lecturer. I feel privileged to be in this position to use my skills, knowledge and experience to give back to the diabetes community. My research focuses on empowering diabetes self-management through digital health and social media. Similarly, my diabetes advocacy work focuses on empowering, supporting and connecting diabetes advocates around the world so that we can learn from each other and have a platform to share our work and achievements.

And that is what Beta Change, stands for. Our vision is to create a world where diabetes will not be seen as a barrier to living your best life and we aim to do this by supporting change-makers around the world. We have shared the stories of advocates who refuse to let diabetes hold them back from their hopes and dreams. From achievements such as graduating college to government advocacy, each and every story matters. For us, if a story reaches and impacts one person with diabetes somewhere around the world, it is a success in our eyes.

For Medtronic co-founder, Earl Bakken, this was exactly why he started the Bakken Invitation Award. He believed that if each one of the 70 million patients did something positive with the extra life they received from their medical technology or procedure, the world would be a better place. In January, I was honoured to be one of the 12 honourees for this award. Together with our care partners/love ones, we travelled to Kona, Hawaii, the place he called home during his retirement, to learn more about his legacy and how to further our own work.

We travelled to local communities that Earl believed in and contributed towards. To these communities, Earl’s spirit, energy and passion lived on in each project he participated in. Throughout the Bakken Invitation Event, we reflected on our own journeys as advocates, who we are as individuals and as leaders in our community. We learned different strategies to maximise our reach and impact. Most importantly we were reminded that our own health comes first and to understand our limitations to be the best advocate we can be. And now, taking all the lessons, networks and reflections home, I’m looking forward to a robust and busy year ahead to continue Earl Bakken’s legacy.

A special note of thanks to Ashley for sharing her story with us. Named after the late Earl Bakken, the Bakken Invitation was launched six years ago to connect empowered patients who affect social change, transform healthcare and inspire others.


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