A New Way?

Is there a New Way of representing diabetics as a group who are living and achieving, yet challenged?
For a long time the word "cancer" was associated primarily with "victim" or "patient." Now thanks to medicine and new treatments, we often hear "cancer" associated with "survivor." Granted, we are still losing too many to the scourge of cancer; and one is too many. I have lost too many great friends to that dreaded disease. Yet, we are often celebrating the "cancer survivor," while highlighting the need for a cure or cures.

I believe that this change has been largely a combination of changed perceptions, changed attitudes, and the media. While many battle this dreaded disease daily, there does seem to be a surge of hope.

My question is can the diabetic community learn something from this. We not only have many survivors, but many achievers. But I feel many times those achievers are singled out, and they rarely seem to unify as a group. Would that help us, if they did?


Numbers. Statistics. Unity in the community of diabetics. Study the gay community as it grew out of its initial, silencing shock over AIDS. And the breast cancer community pretty much did the same. The diabetes community is fragmented and still battling over semantics.

Granted, we are a very complex community with many different approaches to self-management. Perhaps the fact that we are all about self-management is partly the difficulty. The media can't make sense of us unless they single out an "achiever". There is undoubtedly strength in our diversity if we can find it...Blessings...Judith in Portland

While it is a source of pride for many of us with diabetes, we don't look different. E.g. using insulin therapy doesn't cause our hair to fall out. We usually don't look like we have anything to deal with, you know the old "...but you don't look sick". I think that's why the JDRF kept the "J" in their name. Children with diabetes pull at heartstrings better than adults. I also think it has to do with the fact that the causes of diabetes are not well known to the general public. People who have diabetes are seen as having caused the diabetes, it makes it easy for others to see themselves as "safe" since they don't misbehave like we obviously did (or do).
My hope is that someday I'll be successful, in my individual little way, of getting the right info out there, Not only to discourage the blame game, but also to let people know what to look for, what questions to ask, to look at their family tree. I try to start every October in preparation for Diabetes Awareness Month in November.

in my 77+ years with T1 no one ever blamed me for it
lucky me

Folks may not come out and say it artwoman although Drs. and Scientists sure do, but People have been told for many decades that the People who smoke are blamed for their own cancer and the cancer of others with their secondhand smoke. Alcohol causes cancer, being overweight(obese) causes cancer and so on.

DiabetesDad, although it's not totally what you are talking about but there are walks in North America and other countries for Diabetes. On November 14th lots of Families and Friends gather together or at activities for the day to acknowledge Diabetes. On that same day, most of the world light up a significant building, monument, bridge, etc. in blue for Diabetes. Houses are lighted with blue, People wear blue, they decorate anything and everything in blue. There are lots of Advocates who start get togethers and groups for Diabetics. Granted, more are for Type 2 but that's okay. It's a start. There's groups on Tud for achieving 20+, 30+, 50+ years(isn't there) and on other sites? Our Friend Richard Vaughn says there is a group on FB for Diabetics who have had Diabetes for more than 50 years(no one else allowed :) ). People over 50 years with D even get medals and other gifts which is Heartwarming and Special. Diabetics with 25 years with Diabetes get a Certificate of acknowledgement for their achievement which is pretty Cool too(I missed out on that one). There are magazines and newspapers that write about lots of People with Diabetes who have made the big 50, 75 and 80 years of achievement with Diabetes. And there's more, not all groups of course, but Special events all in themselves for being created making us proud that we have survived for as long as we have. Go out and create a Diabetes Group for how many years achievement that you want Diabetes Dad. :)

77 + for me since i was not yet 3

i have 2 75 year medals

Congratulations shoshana27! You're an inspiration to me, and I'm sure to many others.

I feel a big part of the problem is a connection between the medical community, who knows we can achieve a lot under difficult burdens, and the general media that still seems to have attitudes from the 1950s. If this were about any other social issue people would be outraged, and rightly so.

how true ;( sometimes

A perfect example of Eucritta's comment are the ads for (I think) Victoza, Lyrica for neuropathy pain and bg meters (never used to see those on TV!) all feature "people with diabetes" who are overweight. That just continues the myth that diabetes is due to bad habits. As a person with type 1 I get peeved, I can't imagine what it feels like for people with type 2 who aren't overweight etc...

i agree with both of you...ARTWOMAN & FRASER

I agree with you Fraser. My concern is that the similarities of the disease are often overlooked by the political/cultural/social points various people are trying to make by misconceptualizing and accusing different groups in the diabetic community.

Plus, I'm not sure the rather recent usage of labeling folks with LADA is all that helpful or just confusing. I think it's primarily confusing.

I like to think that I can change popular misconceptions one person at a time thru education and just by telling my story. I've been told that because I chose to have a pancreactectomy, I caused myself to develop diabetes, which is essentially true but I had an islet cell transplant to try to guard against it. but I think it was Shoshana who told me I didn't choose diabetes, I chose life. But this person basically told me I deserved to be on insulin and whatever complications came along, so some people just don't understand and never will. But I still try to change the world one person at a time.

If all the c]achievements of other diabetics were highlighted and applauded maybe the general myths would be dispelled and less stigma would be put on those of us with the disease. great question, Diabetic Dad!!

sandy, you're fine, don't worry about what other people think or say
just enjoy life & keep smiling

Sandy, those people who blame you and think you "deserve" your diabetes probably think that people who have a leg amputated did it so they could have a good parking space at the mall.! I, too, try to de-mythify and educate regarding diabetes. But one person at a time is too slow for me. I wish there was a way to help the media get it right. Some of these myths, especially the hurtful ones like people with type 2 ate themselves to diabetes and therefore deserve it can have dire results. Type 2 is hereditary. It is important that people know to check their family trees and deal with it if there are people with type 2. Blaming people with diabetes probably makes the "general public" feel safe - they don't "misbehave" so they won't get it.
And the drug companies that make medications for diabetes treatment. I have yet to see a non-overweight person in a Lyrica or Victoza ad. I read the other day, that 2/3 of the people with type 2 are of normal weight. It's gotta really rile them.
And don't get me started on Dr Oz!

Blaming people with diabetes probably makes the "general public" feel safe - they don't "misbehave" so they won't get it.

I think that's true with alot of medical stuff and life in general. We tell ourselves if we eat right, exercise, watch ourselves and have "situational awareness," bad things won't happen to us...only to others who don't exercise, don't eat the way we think is healthiest, etc, etc.

Bad things happen to "good" people because of dumb luck and being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I think in a way it's one of life's coping mechanisms, but it is used too much in hurtful, and sometimes discriminatory, ways.

Adding to this is the fact that it seems that the overweight is the only group about whom it is acceptable (by society) to treat derogatorily. And since the majority of "information" out there either states that being overweight causes diabetes or the adverts for products for people with diabetes only show people with a few pounds to lose...the conclusion jumped is fairly easy. Because I am slim, I've had people tell me to get a new doctor because I obviously can't have diabetes. (If that were true, I'd stop with the pump and CGM in a heartbeat!)

Thanks, Shoshana!! Ur comments always make me smile!!