by Haley Burnside
On Nov. 14, the diabetics of the world celebrate World Diabetes Day. This day of recognition is not well known outside of the diabetic community, a community of which I have been a member of since my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes at age four.
I have lived with this disease and it’s life-altering complications for as long as I can remember, but I did not become an educator or advocate (so to speak) until my younger sister was diagnosed with the same condition at sixteen. Prior to this, I had never considered it an obligation of mine to educate and inform my peers about the risk factors, symptoms, dangers, and complications of type 1 diabetes.
Now I am able to face my responsibility as a diabetic and an older sister of a diabetic. I wrote an article about living with diabetes in college for the Health Issue of the Quadrangle, which was published this past spring semester. To write the article I interviewed a number of diabetic students here at Manhattan College. I was shocked to discover how comforting it can be to discuss issues I have come to regard as a fact of life for me with others who feel the same way.
One issue I find to be a shared point of frustration among many diabetics is the misconceptions and misunderstandings of the disease. Common myths like “you get diabetes if you’re fat,” or “you can’t eat sugar if you have diabetes,” are difficult to debunk with short and simple sentences, so they often go uncorrected. The misinformation surrounding this disease is dangerous considering the fact that nearly 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year.
This year, to celebrate World Diabetes Day, I urge those who are not members of the diabetic community to visit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation website (jdrf.org) or the American Diabetes Association website (diabetes.org) to gain even a basic understanding of this disease. This could help you recognize symptoms in yourself or others, or even prevent onset of type 2 diabetes. The more we can spread understanding of this disease, the better chances we have of curing it.
Happy World Diabetes Day!