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Fitzy’s health fight keeps footy in perspective

This article was originally published on July 13, 2015. Fitzpatrick recently joined Hawthorn in the trade period in exchange for pick No. 94.

Melbourne big man Jack Fitzpatrick has faced his fair share of battles establishing himself at AFL level.

The 200cm Demon has managed 22 games across five seasons, including three matches in 2015.

It’s not been easy. In fact, not much through Fitzpatrick’s footy life has been.

Constant health issues have plagued the No.50 selection in the 2009 National Draft before and since he was recruited by the Demons.

“I suppose I’ve got a bit of perspective now. Footy is a hard game and I hate losing more than anything, but at the end of the day it is just a game.”

Fitzpatrick had his first “crash” as a result of glandular fever when he was five years old. It developed into chronic fatigue syndrome and is still something he has to manage to this day.

Then, in 2012, when he was 21, Fitzpatrick was feeling more drained than usual. With good reason, too. He was told by his doctor that he had diabetes.

“I suppose I’ve got a bit of perspective now. Footy is a hard game and I hate losing more than anything, but at the end of the day it is just a game,” Fitzpatrick said in an interview with in 2013.

There is no cure or known cause for Type 1 diabetes. Without ongoing insulin injections, which Fitzpatrick requires every day, he says he could die.

“The fact is I enjoy every minute that I have got because I am already living on borrowed time,” Fitzpatrick said.

“If I wasn’t injecting myself with insulin I would be six-feet under.”

To coincide with Diabetes Awareness Week 2015, Diabetes Australia is launching a new national awareness campaign.

The campaign ‘280 a day’ highlights the number of Australians who, Diabetes Australia says, develop diabetes everyday, as well as the daily challenges of managing diabetes.

Diabetes Australia says the campaign does not focus specifically on type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes, but seeks to increase overall knowledge of the condition, especially among people who do not have the disease.

Fitzpatrick is one of 1.7 million Australians dealing with diabetes.

However, the 24-year-old believes the structured lifestyle of an AFL footballer has made it easier to cope.

AFL 2013 Rd 11 - Melbourne v Collingwood

He also pointed to Melbourne’s much talked about low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet as a benefit for his health.

Fitzpatrick used Richmond great Dale Weightman, as proof that the illness couldn’t slow his footy development.

Weightman, a diabetic, played 274 games for the Tigers and represented Victoria 20 times.

Former Adelaide defender Nathan Bassett, an All Australian who played 210 games for the Crows, and ex-Bulldog and Giant Sam Reid are other diabetics to play at the highest level.