This post was written on a notepad while sitting in the Washington D.C. airport, waiting for a late-night flight home from an incredible JDRF Government Day 2011 experience. My laptop wouldn't connect online and my Blackberry had one battery bar left. And that doesn't even take into acount that my feet are worn from Capitol Hill advocating, my mind is beyond exhausted and I can't even think straight to formulate a coherent thought. But I want to at least get some initial thoughts out while they're still fresh in my head. So many feelings and tidbits are swimming around in the overflowing sink inside my head, and I want to take some time to reflect and write about them in the weeks ahead. Not to mention get some real, continuous sleep... In the meantime, it needs to be said: Thank you, JDRF, for making me a part of this and more importantly for what you are doing for the entire D-Community.
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As an adult living with Type 1 diabetic, I am not forgotten.
Without a doubt, that's the clearest message and feeling I’ve taken away from the incredible experience that is JDRF Government Day 2011. During the past four days, I've laughed and cried and been silent and vocal. Absorbing so much information and so many emotions that it hurts.
Opinions can differ on how and why some may have felt "forgotten" and passions can ignite over the idea, but the past is past. Regardless of how or when things came to be this way for myself as a member of the Adult Type 1 population things have changed and they are continuing to change as far as what the JDRF is and does. Even if the message may still center on kids and the name includes the word “Juvenile” at its beginning, I know that adults are a part of the focus and this organization is being inclusive in the mission for all of us.
That is, at the national level. And some scattered chapters throughout the country.
But many still don’t embrace this with the same fervor that I witnessed in Washington D.C. during the past four days, and what has been represented by the newest CEO of the organization – Mr. Jeffrey Brewer, a Diabetic Dad whose then 7-year old son was diagnosed in 2002. The DOC contingent sat in the same room with him and asked questions, and saw him answer truthfully, candidly, without anyone reviewing his words before they were spoken. This man “gets it.” He's down to earth and realistic, smart, and so incredibly full of passion.
So much so, that one incredible nugget came from an awards dinner on the first night of the event: The JDRF will be unveiling a new tagline. For as long as I remember, I recall the tagline being exactly or resembling something as it is now – Dedicated to Finding a Cure… It's simple and straightforward, but doesn't reflect the complexities that everyone now sees existing. There's more to it than just being a champion for some vague notion of a "cure," and the JDRF is now making that more of its message as we move forward. Nothing has been abandoned, just expanded. The tagline is going to expand and be more inclusive, to show that there’s more to treating and curing diabetes and the JDRF mission than just funneling money and marketing children.
Sitting through scientific sessions where incredibly complex information was boiled down into layman terms and PowerPoint presentations made me see that we are moving toward this. In ways that have never before been possible. It feels real to me, and by recognizing that I can contribute to this overall discussion about cure research the JDRF is doing something I don’t see as happening before.
I'm excited about the JDRF and research and everything going on. Yes, I see hope. Now, the challenge is bringing everyone together and engaging the Diabetes Community to focus our energies and perspectives in ways that can help us move toward that goal. We’re all in this together.
We can all advocate, share our stories, and help connect each other as part of a bigger picture - living successfully while we do what's necessary to stop this diabetes once and for all.
Disclosure: What's said is from the own internal craziness of my own mind and heart. The JDRF didn't ask me to write anything about this trip, and it has no influence on what I write here. The fact that they paid for travel, hotel, meals, and some expenses has no bearing on my blog (except for part of my gratitude of offering me that chance to be involved).