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Why I Became an Advocate

I am not the type of person who sees injustices in the world and immediately does what she can to fight against them. I’d like to be that person, but I’m not. I certainly think about helping with this cause or that but am often left feeling like “What’s the use? My one voice won’t make a difference!” I’ve come to learn that I’m wrong.

When I began writing my blog more than 6 years ago, I only had myself in mind. I figured that “journaling” about my diabetes would help to keep me focused. It never occurred to me that others would actually read it and gain something from it.

Over the years I began connecting with other people with diabetes in what is called the DOC (Diabetes Online Community). I learned that I wasn’t alone; that other people struggled with many of the same issues I had. Hearing from others who “get it” was just the medicine I needed. As I spent time online, I was also confronted with something far less positive in the form of stigma. The myths and stigma surrounding type 2 diabetes are an ever-increasing problem. Misinformation abounds and people, just like me, are faced with the idea that we “did this to ourselves” and that “all we have to do is ___ and we’ll be fine.” Add to that the fact that fat-shaming is one of the most accepted forms of bullying around. How disheartening! This type of thing does nothing but make it even harder to deal with our diabetes. What can be done? How do we make a change?

Advocacy sounds ominous, like it’s a “big thing” that takes a lot of time and effort. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. When I write something about what my life with diabetes is like, I’m advocating. Showing the world how a person with diabetes looks and lives can help dispel the myths and misconceptions that we often face. By living my life the best that I can, despite my diabetes, I’m advocating. When I’m out walking, I’m showing the world that I’m not lazy. When I make smart choices at a restaurant or ask for no toast, I’m showing the world that people with diabetes have to be careful of what they eat and they don’t just eat plates full of fries and pie a la mode. When I correct someone whose idea of diabetes is wrong, I’m educating them and possibly making a difference even if it’s just one person.

Can one person make a difference? Maybe not always but if that person is joined by others, their combined voices can be heard. We can all be advocates by speaking up. There are easy ways to advocate from the privacy of your own home. The Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC) is one example. They are a non-profit group who does the work of following Federal legislation that affects those of us with diabetes. Their website will inform you and give you easy steps to follow in order to contact your congressmen. Your voice, combined with others, does make a difference.

I didn’t set out to be an advocate, but I am one now. Why is this important to me? I don’t want anyone with diabetes to feel bullied. I want people with diabetes to get the education they need in order to live healthy lives despite their condition. I don’t want people with diabetes to feel alone. I want others to know that we are not lazy people who overeat. We’re just like everyone else and we deserve the best care. Even if only one person changes their mind about diabetes or one fellow patient feels better about themselves because of something I’ve written, then I’ve done my part. That’s why I am an advocate.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.