November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, as proclaimed by President Obama, and annually the International Diabetes Federation claims November 14th as World Diabetes Day. This date is chosen because it is the birthday of Fredrick Banting, who, along with Charles Best, discovered insulin in 1922.
In October, we are flooded with everything pink for breast cancer awareness. Everyone knows what a pink ribbon means. But what about blue circles? Grey ribbons with a red blood drop? Do people who aren’t affected by diabetes even know the significance of the color or symbol?
Sometimes I feel that “diabetes awareness” is preaching to the choir and only reaches those of us already affected or already a part of the diabetes community. But it doesn’t have to.
We can raise our hands each November and say, “Look at us. This is important.”
You don’t have to go big. It can be as simple as wearing blue on Fridays. You could wear a blue circle pin on your lapel. I know I get compliments every time I wear mine and it allows me to open a dialog.
My Involvement in Raising Diabetes Awareness
Last year I sent an e-mail to our school’s parent list describing type 1 and type 2 diabetes and the symptoms that you should look out for. Some parents rally the kids at school to wear blue or give class presentations. You could even do a bake sale and give the proceeds to a diabetes charity. (And yes, people with diabetes can have sweets as long as they have insulin to cover it.* The Omnipod insulin pump makes giving boluses for special celebrations easy.)
This year my effort for diabetes awareness is sharing a fact, tip, thought or feeling each and every day. As I post the graphics each morning on my Facebook page , I am amazed to see that some of these are shared with friends and family and seen by more than 20,000 people. Hopefully friends of friends of friends will learn something this month about diabetes and the challenges that it presents.
Last week, my daughter and I, along with others affected by diabetes, met with our local Congressman to urge his support of the Special Diabetes Program. Hearing the stories of people, young and old, with diabetes and the experiences of parents who have both little and grown kids with diabetes, reminded me that we must keep advocating. We must raise diabetes awareness. We need to stand up each November and say, “Look at us.” But we also need to raise awareness all year long to make sure funding continues going toward improving existing technologies and eventually finding a true biological cure.
The Importance of Continuing to Raise Diabetes Awareness
We have come a long way since the early days of insulin, as produced by Banting and Best in a lab in Ontario. We have come a long way since the days of testing blood sugars once a week and boiling syringes. And continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps, such as the Omnipod, definitely make managing diabetes easier. But we must continue to raise diabetes awareness so that not only tax dollars and charitable contributions go toward research, but also so that people can understand the plight of a person with diabetes and his or her family:
That it is every second of every minute of every day.
*Information posted on Podder Talk is not intended to be taken as medical advice. Always consult with your healthcare provider for questions and guidance on managing any health-related issues.