Hi Fellow Advocates,
With all the talk we do about the critical need to inform and engage the media on
diabetes, we haven’t yet found a really impactful channel for this. But now maybe we have!
Please check out our interview with the head of UCLA’s Global Media Center for Social Impact:
What they do is work hand-in-hand with Hollywood writers and producers to
make sure that storylines addressing these socially sensitive topics are compelling and realistic.
I personally think that ADA, JDRF, and other leading national diabetes
should be engaging with this organization for the widest possible
Do you all agree?
If so, should we begin to lobby them on this?
It would seem to me that the primary objective would be to educate, namely to dispel the misconceptions about diabetes. Unfortunately, my general feeling is that there remains a serious gap between the positions these organizations take and what we as PWD want. These organizations often have major constituencies that overwhelm the patient voice. There may be hope, the ADA and JDRF issued a joint statement over the Crossfit debacle:
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for about 95 percent of cases. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not use insulin properly, called insulin resistance, and may not make enough insulin. Type 2 is influenced by genetics, family history, age and inactivity. Being overweight is a major risk factor for developing type 2, but it’s important to remember that most overweight people never develop type 2, and many people with it are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight. Type 2 is treated with healthy eating, physical activity, oral medications and sometimes insulin or other injectables. There is no cure for type 2 either, though it can often be prevented or delayed through lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise and healthful eating.
Unfortunately we still have the unfortunate belief that you can “prevent” diabetes by eating right and exercising. I don’t believe this. The use of the term prevent implies a causal connection and that you can be cured. And this remains a key misconception leading people who follow the advice and fail to feel personal blame for their failure when in fact their condition is not their fault. It will take a lot of work to convince these organizations of this error in their ways.
That being said, the ADA and JDRF had a campaign with the Ad Council on the importance of the A1c. Perhaps this can already fit into what they have done in the past.
I think any progress that can be made in educating and removing stigma is a good thing. Especially because so many people only know what they see on TV & in the movies. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that 6 years ago I would have been among the millions who think that people with Type 2 would be ok if they just ate less sweets & that people with type 1 will be ok if they just take their shots. I actually put off going to the doctor for diagnosis because I recognized a few symptoms but was underweight & didn’t think it was possible for an adult to get T1. It’s amazing what a bit of personal knowledge can do, as I now know all of those things are totally untrue.
Which I think is the point of Amy’s questions. If the writers aren’t properly educated or don’t have firsthand knowledge themselves, we can’t expect them to tackle the issue realistically (at which point diabetes is easier to make into the butt of a joke…) So, yes, I think it’s worth trying to work with writers during the writing process rather than protesting after the episode has aired.
As a related example, the show Body of Proof was on for a few years. One of the characters on the show had T1. There was a diagnosis story that was done pretty well, and diabetes was just a part of that character’s life - but it was there and done realistically. (OK - there was the time the character was kidnapped and the insulin left behind. She started to go into DKA but the writers called it diabetic coma. That was the only sensationalistic time I can recall.) It just so happens that the actor actually had T1 & they decided to write it into the show. So you had a real person with real experiences informing the writers.
So, yeah, I think influencing the media could have an impact on influencing & educating the masses. Whether to remove the stigma or educate people to take charge of their health. I’m only one voice among the “we” - but I think as far as engaging and lobbying - go for it!
The Hollywood rule: “If there’s a diabetic in the show, they’re gonna need a shot.” Still, it sounds like this show might be better than most thanks to the actor actually having T1. But that shot thing is just kind of an irresistible temptation to writers under a deadline–an easy way to generate some dramatic tension. Can’t blame 'em really. All you can ask is they get the reason for it right. Which mostly they don’t.
That “diabetic coma” thing is the worst because the more they use it, the more the public thinks it’s an official medical term, whereas in fact it’s way too vague. When someone someone says so-and-so was in a “diabetic coma” you don’t know if it was DKA or hypoglycemia–and of course neither do they–though of course it makes a huge difference as to understanding what actually happened.