tiktok stars 'Diabetic Duo' reveal they became world famous by accident
The glamorous pair, both 21, say they'd love to build a TV career as the diabetic Ant and Dec
Diabetic Duo Ellen Watson and Beth McDaniel have revealed they became world famous by accident.
The marketing students have become a TikTok sensation with funny weekly videos about life with diabetes.
They now have a worldwide following of 22,000 fans and one of their first videos clocked up over 700,000 views.
The glamorous pair, both 21, say they'd love to build a TV career as the diabetic Ant and Dec, but after finding fame by chance they'll take whatever opportunities fate throws at them.
Ellen, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since the age of six, met best friend Beth at 17 when they both started a summer job in a shoe shop.
When Beth was diagnosed with the condition at 20, by sheer coincidence just a few days after her little sister Grace, the prospect of living with diabetes was less frightening because she'd seen how Ellen copes with it.
"I honestly think that we met for a reason," says Beth.
"If I didn't know anything about type 1 diabetes, I would have panicked a lot more. I would have thought my life is over.
"I was shocked and confused at the start, but because I knew so much about it and I know that Ellen lives a completely normal, fulfilling life with the condition I knew it will be fine."
The friends, initially nicknamed the Iconic Duo in their home town of Banbridge, both wear Dexcom 6 glucose monitors which send regular readings to their phones to tell them how much insulin to inject or if they need to eat.
It's been life-changing for Ellen who had to do finger pricks for years to monitor her glucose readings.
"I don't know how I was diabetic before I met Beth. The difference in having that support and the new technology, it's just improved my life so much I feel like a normal person every day," she says.
When the discs, which they often wear on their arms, were captured in one of their TikTok videos it sparked such huge interest they became the Diabetic Duo.
"Me and Ellen were joking about on a night out in October 2019. At the time TikTok wasn't used like it is now and all our friends were saying that it's so uncool," says Beth.
"We were filming for the craic and we accidentally got our little disc in, our blood sugar monitor, and everyone said, 'oh my goodness what is that? They must be type 1 diabetic,' and they were tagging all their diabetic friends and it literally went viral overnight.
"It was crazy. We were not expecting it at all and then we thought we are getting so many messages from all these diabetics should we do something with this, should we take this to the next step, and then it went on from there."
The pair now come up with weekly videos and have become charity ambassadors. They're speaking out ahead of Diabetes Week which begins tomorrow in the UK, where one in 15 people have the condition and around one million people have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. It's estimated by Diabetes Ireland there are over 230,000 people with the condition in the Republic.
Beth and Ellen, who appeared on The One Show on BBC last year, are proud they're helping to educate people around the world. Type 1 diabetics - eight per cent of people with the condition - don't produce any insulin to regulate their glucose levels, and type 2 diabetics, who make up 90 per cent, don't produce enough.
Both are serious conditions with complications if they're untreated, and the most common symptoms are the four Ts - thirst, thinness after sudden weight loss, tiredness and going to the toilet more than usual.
The friends keep their videos light-hearted with sequences like 'injecting in strange places' which included taking out the bins, beside a police van and while cheerleading.
"A lot of it is very natural," says Ellen.
"Beth and I like to poke fun at everything so because our videos are light-hearted it's not like you have to really script it. Half the time we film before a night out, when we're shopping, or on a walk.
"Because I've had diabetes since childhood, I know what the highs and lows are like. Going through the age of 13 to 15 is hard when you can feel very insecure, you don't want to be different.
"Hearing the response from other young girls saying that seeing me and Beth living our lives, having nights out, at university, it gives them a lot of inspiration that they can do the same in the future.
"When you make video you think it's only going to be you and your friends seeing it, and when you see people from all over the world commenting you are so shocked."
Both Ulster University students eat a normal healthy diet, enjoy a drink and say they have no fears of a future with diabetes.
"If you look after yourself and do everything right and try your best you've no reason to worry about the future," says Ellen. "You can live the exact same life as anyone else.
"We just like to take every opportunity that comes our way. The dream goal would be to be the next Ant and Dec, the diabetic version," she says.
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