Monday 7 November 2011

A Health Activist's Dreams

Don’t restrict your imagination here – because they say if you dream it you can achieve. it. Imagine money is no longer an option. And now you’re able to really accomplish your biggest, grandest, and most fabulous Health Activist goal. What is it? How can you [now] get there? Does your biggest dream goal focus on awareness, a cure, treatment, access, or a combination of other things? Now, quickly, before we get lost in dreamland – let’s bring our aspirations back down to size. How much of this can you accomplish now, in a year, in five years?
So many ideas, it's hard to choose just one. One of my goals would obviously be to find a cure for diabetes. Another goal would be to ensure that every person in the world with type 1 diabetes have access to insulin. Or even loftier, that every person with type 1 diabetes have an insulin pump and CGMS, and access to the same care, regardless of income. But I think for today's purposes, I'm going to start closer to home and focus on awareness. 
There are too many people who simply do not understand diabetes; there is so much misunderstanding and lack of knowledge/information that as a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes it can get very frustrating, to say the least. As a teacher myself, I believe that the best way to combat ignorance is with education, so that it my dream goal: to educate everyone about diabetes. Every member of society needs to know that diabetes is not self-inflicted, and not a result of poor diet or lifestyle choices. They need to know that insulin is a life saving drug that is necessary to stay alive; that every human being requires insulin but that a diabetic does not produce any/enough to maintain stable blood glucose levels so they need to inject insulin into their bodies multiple times per day via syringes, or continuously via an insulin pump. They need to know that diabetes is random; it is not hereditary, and can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, or sex. They need to know that diabetes is not something one outgrows and that insulin is NOT a cure. They need to know these things so that they can be part of the solution; part of the ultimate goal: a cure.
So how do we get there? Well, we're already on our way. Each and every diabetes advocate is helping to do their part to spread awareness. We are educating people, sometimes even one at a time. I have been advocating for diabetes since my son was diagnosed almost six years ago, but I want to do more and I have an idea as to the "how."
For the past 2 years I have been involved with an organization called Cyclebetes (recently changed to Cycle4) which promotes awareness of type 1 diabetes through cycling events. They have a number of different programs, ranging from small, school based spin-a-thons, to mid-length community rides, to long distance cross country team rides. I have ridden as part of the National Relay team in 2010 and again in 2011, and plan to ride again next year, but I would like to get way more involved with the organization and help them take it to the next level. I'd like to see way more spin-a-thons, community rides across the country, and celebratory events in each major town/city as we ride across the country. I'd like to see media support of all of their events, and lots more corporate sponsorship. This is how I'd like to get the message out.

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