Someone in the Diabetes Community online recently engaged me in conversation about why they do not support a particular color or symbol to embrace diabetes.
What started the whole online exchange was how they were promoting diabetes awareness, using a ribbon that had a little blood drop symbol and used a color that most associate with another health condition.
I supported the advocacy and D-Awareness raising, but noted my hesitancy behind multiple colors and symbols. I noted my support of the color blue.
That person's point: "Diabetes is not a color or symbol, it's a disease. Period."
Over time, there have been so many other colors and ribbons in regard to diabetes that it makes my head spin. I often feel that we're doing ourselves a disservice by having so many different colors, as that seems to tell the non-diabetic world at large that we can't even agree with each other about how we want to communicate about diabetes at the very ground level.
Think of diabetes as a long staircase up to the roof, where it's possible that vague notion for a cure is floating around as something we'd all like to get to immediately if we could.
There are many stairs leading up to that rooftop. And there's even a few elevators nearby that could help get up there more quickly.
But before we can even start climbing or deciding what elevator will zip us up, and before we start trying to tell people about all the different aspects of diabetes understanding and research that sits on each floor, we have to convince the general public that this is a journey they should be making.
Why should they even want to go up there, when they could stay on the ground level and look at going to other buildings that are full of worthy causes like breast cancer, Chrohn's Disease, autism, Alzeimer's, and countless other conditions and charitable pursuits.
That's where the color Blue and the Blue Circle come into place for me.
No matter what my focus may be on diabetes type differences, cure research, technology developments, or advocacy for better regulatory or insurance coverage, it comes down to getting people to care. And to me, a unified INTRODUCTORY message within this community is the best way to make that happen -- no matter how many different internal messages we might have.
I would agree with the Facebook poster that diabetes isn't a color.
But like most of us, I want a cure more than anything. And how do we get there? I believe the key to making that happen comes down to the general public's better understanding of this disease, as it would raise the profile of diabetes (particularly Type 1).
Personally, I fear that our Diabetes Community is often working against itself by sharing multiple symbols, colors and messages from the very get-go. I think it makes the general public wonder what all the mixed messaging is about, to the tune of surveys showing what a huge disconnect there is between the D-World and everyone else.
I think we should be striving toward the same level of public consciousness that breast cancer advocates have with the color Pink. Sure, breast cancer may not "be pink." But ask anyone on the street, and most will probably associate the color with the condition and know what it means. And you bet that gets people more interested in a particular cause and condition, when they can make that connection.
So, yes, while my diabetes isn't a color, that color and a symbol is the best way I know how to "get my foot in the door" to communicate a message that gets more people caring about this condition. And from there, it allows me to effectively say whatever it is I need to say about it and advocate for whatever that may be. Once they are looking this way, we can focus on whatever organization or initiative we might be promoting. Or whatever kind of research or advocacy is closest to our heart.
In sum: it's not ABOUT THE COLOR, but it's about GETTING THE PUBLIC TO CARE. And that comes down to using a color to unify our voice and get people to look this way, if nothing else. Looking toward our building and that staircase or elevator system that we want them to start using.
Whether that leads them to focusing on a particular aspect of diabetes, or get them involved in cure research or better device standards or just connecting people in their own community with information about this disease, it's the point that they are then aware of diabetes.
And that's the point.
It's why I support one color and symbol, and stand behind the Blue Circle and will do my best to promote blue as the color to unify this D-Community in a way that gets the public's attention and hopefully gets more people to listen.