Saturday, April 30, 2011

Type 1 Does Not Discriminate - Neither Should We

I just read my friend Scully's blog today about running a 5k race to help raise money for the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).  She talked about some of the misconceptions that surround Juvenile (aka Type 1) diabetes.  Namely that it only happens to kids.

It often does.  There are hundreds and thousands of children diagnosed with diabetes while still in diapers. It's absolutely awful and I can't imagine the stress on the families as they tried to keep blood sugars under control for little ones that can't tell you when they don't feel right.  Or young children in grade 1 who would rather run around than check their sugar and eat a snack.

But reality is that Juvenile Diabetes is very poorly named. Type 1 diabetes can strike at any age.  It struck me at 28.  It strikes people at 40, 50 and 60.  One day we're fine.  The next, we're drinking water like crazy and weight it dropping off at an alarming rate.  In a few short weeks or months, we end up at the doctor's office or hospital and receive a diagnosis that will change our lives forever.  Type 1 diabetes.  Insulin-dependent.

Nothing we could do about it.  No way to stop it once it starts.  No cure.  A life sentence.

I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that Type 1 diabetes is focused mostly on children.  From a fundraising perspective, it's probably more lucrative because kids have a certain appeal that adults don't.  Kinda like baby seals.  People are drawn to the idea that it's a disease that affects children and they feel compelled to donate.  I'm ok with that because a cure for one is a cure for all (I hope).

But those kids grow up...and they don't outgrow diabetes.  On top of that, plenty of adults are diagnosed with it too and it's no less traumatic to be diagnosed at 28 rather than at 2.

When those adults go to run a 5k race to help raise money for JDRF, they're going to feel left out because the focus is going to be on the kids.

It's ok to focus on the kids - but not at the expense of everyone else.

Good for you Scully.  You ran a great race, had a fabulous finishing time and helped raise money to find a cure for everyone - no matter how old they are.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written post. You went into the kind of detail I just couldn't bring myself to write about.
    I think that's what struck me the most about the race, these kids grow up and become adults. What do they 'think' happens to the diabetes? millions of children AND adults.
    thanks for this.