I’ve heard many times that people have concerns over type 1 diabetes support dwindling. At first I thought, can this be? After all, there is more awareness now and more type 1 cases are being diagnosed each year. This train of thought lead me to recount to my husband about the JDRF Walks that my family and I participated in over a decade ago. I remember the walks being huge. There were tons of people, over 6 miles of walking, police aid to escort walkers around the downtown of the city, ambulances available for low blood sugar crashes, snack and drink stops along the way, press cameras all over the place-in other words, I got the feeling there was A LOT of support for Type 1 Diabetes. There was even a stage with a podium and the press would make a statement about what they saw. My little brother was once interviewed for the news for being one of the youngest walkers.
Each year after the first walk, I couldn’t help but notice how the miles of the walk decreased. When the walk eventually came down to under 3 miles, I thought it was “wimpy” and longed for the days where the walk was so long, one would actually have the appetite for the loads of hamburgers and hot dogs and side dishes provided post walk. I was a teenager and began feeling like the walks were no longer being taken seriously. Or maybe people were losing hope with every year. I didn’t know what it was.
Yesterday, the city where I live held it’s JDRF Walk for the Cure. I couldn’t make it. It hit me yesterday morning like a lightening bolt that all of my strange symptoms from the last several weeks all point to a kidney infection so I am taking it easy, trying to down about 4 liters of water a day, and already left a urine sample at the doctor’s this morning. Yesterday, my husband took the kids to the park before their nap and curiosity lead him to drive past the walk just as it was about to start. We have a few areas in our downtown where large banner announcements often hang to announce a festival or walk for a cause. He was surprised to see no banner about the JDRF Walk . There is always a banner for the Cancer walks, the Strawberry and Peach Festivals, even the Greek Festival. Those huge banners, strung between buildings are up for weeks and let everyone know about the event. I consider it very effective marketing because of how small our downtown area is-everyone goes down that street sometime each month.
For the past two years I’ve been participating with the Diabetes Online Community. I’ve been exposed to the the opinions of many with diabetes. One idea that many have become concerned about is that the type 2 diabetes epidemic and the negative associations involved with that disease has leaked into the type 1 diabetes awareness arena. Type 1 diabetes gets confused with type 2 and a lack of support ensues. I’m sure there are other reasons for the dwindling support but I have heard plenty of negative things about type 2 and can easily imagine the negativity hurting the type 1 as well as the type 2 diabetics.
I’ve heard type 1 and 2 may require different cures and if that’s the case, you can see why this entire subject is an extremely complicated and emotional one. Those with type 1 want acknowledgement that their life balance is a delicate one and one only successfully managed by an extremely exhausting way of living. Those with type 2 are saying, “hey! This is really hard, too!” And everyone is right. And diabetes is a global issue, affecting everyone whether they have diabetes or not. It’s just not seen that way, yet.
I have noticed many people only support one type of diabetes. My concern however, is not about if this is wrong or right but rather, is this effective? Is this in all of our best interests? It worries me that type 1 not supporting type 2 will make type 2 look like a disease that is easy to deal with and easy to get rid of (when that isn’t the case at all). It also worries me that type 2 not supporting type 1 will decrease funding and support for a much less prevalent disease. Both scenarios lead to the same outcome-inadequate support for both types of diabetes.
It has become clear to me that helping dissipate inaccurate information about type 2 diabetes is not only the just and friendly thing to do, but one that will positively impact type 1 diabetes as well. The type 1 community needs the backing of the type 2 community and vice versa.
Unity, in this case, as in so many others, is our best hope. So although the two writers on this site, my sister Ana and I have type 1 diabetes, we support all people with diabetes (all 11 kinds!) and the causes that help any of them. It’s always been this way but now we’re officially on the record.
What are your thoughts on the matter?