Envisioning No More Diabetes

This post may seem like more of a public service announcement for the American Diabetes Association.

So be it. On one hand (HA!), that's a worthy PSA to be made.

Leading up to American Diabetes Awareness Month in November (which includes World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14), the ADA is following up to its new 2009-created campaign called Stop Diabetes - which has the "audacious goal of gathering the support of millions of Americans to help confront, fight and most importantly, stop diabetes."

Starting Oct. 15, the ADA is asking: "How will you Stop Diabetes? The future is in your hands."

We are asked to make a video to answer that question.

People can answer that question through a video submission, in a contest that the ADA is promoting online. You are encouraged to "share your vision to stop diabetes" by posting a video on stopdiabetes.com, incorporating the hand as a symbol of the movement in a 30-second video online to show your passion and commitment to changing the future of diabetes.  Some sample videos are available online, to spark ideas for this contest sponsored by VSP Vision Care. Once the video submissions are complete, the public will be able to vote for the most compelling video. In the end, the top 3 finalists will receive an Apple iPad and the winner will be a part of a Stop Diabetes public service announcement. The deadline for video submissions is Nov. 30, 2010.

(\Begin Digression: Now, be forewarned: The stories that are already submitted have a good amount of Type 1 connection, but there are those others focused on only Type 2. Some stories flash the stereotypical "my grandmother succumed to diabetic complications and died" stories... Not to belittle those tragic stories that are indeed heartfelt, but that's something we in the Type 1 Diabetes Community often get thrown into our faces. This isn't the sole reason why we fight for an end to diabetes, because we know that long successful and complication-free lives are ACTUALLY POSSIBLE. /Digression Ends.)

Aside from this video contest, people are also encouraged to join this "movement" in other ways, such as giving, volunteering, learning, and advocating. Apparently, more than 600,000 people have joined this movement (as reported by the latest ADA figures) and the ADA is very focused on letting people know the organization is the largest national movement to Stop Diabetes. Most recently, Rite Aid has joined this campaign and is offering incentives for people to take Diabetes Risk Tests, distributing D-guides at every pharmacy counter, and hosting more than 1,200 free D-clinics during November.

First, these moves are great. I applaud Rite Aid for doing these things. I commend the ADA for wanting to raise more awareness overall about diabetes, and some of the materials it offers online do encourage that and even touch on Type 1 - something that many long-time Adult Type 1s see as a shortcoming of the ADA. We had a great conversation with group leadership earlier this year in Orlando, and some of what they said was encouraging - though we shall see what comes from all of that.

However, I'm a little bothered by this message overall to "Stop Diabetes." To me, it seems to imply that we can just "flick a switch" and somehow stop diabetes. You look at the 23.4 million stat of those living with diabetes, and see the leading lines of this Stop D Movement talking about how more people die from this than AIDS or breast cancer combined... just those two points push me away from wanting to be a part of this. Really, it taps into that ongoing longtime feeling by so many that the ADA is just T2 focused, that it refuses to weave Type 1 into its larger advocacy marketing. As if anything we do to join the ADA will somehow prevent Type 1. Granted, Type 2 is a different beast and maybe it can be prevented more to an extent. But in looking at this campaign, my natural feelings of Type 1 getting the short end of a stick come to mind. So much of this seems as though it's just the ADA trying to boost its numbers and membership and not truly embracing what it professes to embrace. Of course, the same can be said about the JDRF and other organizations... We try to give them the benefit of the doubt and move on, hoping for something we aren't expecting.

I want to cure diabetes, which is something that the JDRF is obviously the leading organization on that front. To stop diabetes? Sure, ADA. Stop. Cure. End. Eradicate. Vaporize. Disassemble Johnny Five... Whatever.

I'd just like the JDRF and ADA work more together on "curing" or "stopping" diabetes. To me, that's what World Diabetes Day does for me - it bridges a gap that the two leading groups aren't willing to bridge at this point. They both have their bottom lines and goals, and the overall elimination of diabetes of any type isn't their focus - it's "stopping" or "curing" it and then claiming their mission has been met.

But, we move on from those sentiments. I continue walking with the JDRF and raising money for a cure. I will make a video to do my part in advocating to "Stop Diabetes." Whatever works. Whatever inspires and maybe makes someone else aware of what they can do, or what they might need to know. I commend our fellow D-blogger and social media guru Dayle Kern for working with the ADA on this front and being a part of the solution.

In the end, I guess it doesn't much matter to me whether we "cure" or "stop" diabetes. I just want everyone to work together in that mission and advocating for the best possible way we can all Live With Diabetes successfully short of it no longer existing.


Unknown said…

I guess at this stage of the game Mike I am happy to unite with other type 1's to educate and advocate. I raise funds with the JDRF Walk. I support Dr. Faustman.

I haven't done much with the ADA due to the type 2 focus. I applaud them in their efforts...but I have exclusively supported JDRF to date.
Meal Mommy said…
Well put. The politics get OLD! We all want the same thing in the long run, right?
Sysy said…
Nice post! Why am I not convinced that a cure will ever be allowed to be found? I mean, how come I feel that certain powerful people will prevent this from ever happening?

I want there to be a huge focus on a cure and yet the reality is we need that AND we need a huge focus on educating the public and helping them change their lifestyles. I think we have a big challenge ahead of us to somehow figure out both and to deal with my first scary question...what do you think by the way? You seem to always have your thoughts organized :D
Scott Strange said…
I knew D was a sign of the coming of our robot overlords!!

Seriously tho, simply by the title, the program seems to be directed at type 2.

As a T1, I have never had any type of contact with the ADA (unless they wanted money) As a matter of fact, I recently unsubscribed from all of thier mailing lists because I got several over a two week period wanting money and it just annoyed the hell out of me. Lord knows I already pay enough for this disease.

I honestly have never felt that the ADA was really representing my interests as a T1. They were below the JDRF on my scale as for as adult T1 outreach went

But, let's give them the benefit of the doubt and see if they can deliver some education to the media at least

Great post, Mike!
Mom101 said…
What a thoughtful post Michael. I've been learning more about diabetes since entering the corn wars on my blog, and having a close family member who's been diagnosed. Glad to know this is such a smart resource for me.

And thanks for the nice comment at my place that pointed me here.

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