Why Diabetes Advocacy Is Important to Me
At various times in my life, I’ve felt lonely. However, the loneliest time in my life was during the six days in 2011 when I was hospitalized and newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Having recently moved to a state, I was far away from my family and was just starting to make new friends. I remember being sure of only one thing—not one person who loved me would walk through the door, hold my hand, and say, “Everything will be okay.” I cried by the hour. With each finger prick and insulin injection, I wept like a child. I didn't understand how this could happen to me.
Why is type 2 diabetes advocacy necessary?
Beyond the stigmatized misinformation that floats around, I didn’t know anything about diabetes and the few handouts that the nurses handed me were not very helpful. They were mainly written in the language of scare tactics, but I was already extremely scared, alone, and confused. Nothing was making sense. I didn’t know if I was going to die sooner than I hoped, be able to have children, or live the life I had planned on my vision board the month prior on New Year's Day.
Accepting the diagnosis and understanding how to manage diabetes didn’t begin in the hospital, although it should have. The bulk of my diabetes education began through a series of internet searches. Eventually, by searching "type 2 diabetes," "diabetes causes," "diabetes symptoms," and even "cures for diabetes," I discovered the diabetes online community. Seeing people who were living with diabetes advocating for themselves and others like me (people newly diagnosed and looking to connect with others who understand) was amazing. The best part of discovering other people who were similar in age, who also had near-death experiences with hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, and who were open about their ups and downs, is that I no longer felt alone.
I’ll be a diabetes advocate for the rest of my life
Diabetes advocacy is extremely important to society. In the seven years since my diagnosis, I’ve become a global diabetes patient advocate and I’m fueled by the desire to make sure that no else feels like I did when I developed type 2 diabetes. We advocates bring a valuable magic to the lives of people who are managing type diabetes, especially when type 2 stigma is so prevalent. Diabetes awareness month is that special time of the year when we get to show our faces to the world and stand united in the fight against diabetes.
I remain eternally grateful to every diabetes advocate that came before me because seeing them bravely share their experiences in videos, photos, and blog posts is what gave me the courage to do the same. It isn’t always easy to be open about living with a chronic illness, but it’s wonderfully rewarding knowing that I get to help others live their lives healthier. Realizing that I get to be a familiar face that someone can connect with makes it worth it. I may not know what I was born to do, but I know that I’ll be a diabetes advocate for the rest of my life.
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