American Diabetes Month Tells Many Stories
|Terri (left) and Alex King share their diabetes story with others.|
There are many faces of diabetes. One of them belongs to Alex King.
The 10-year-old girl from Peoria, Ariz., was diagnosed with type 1 less than a year ago. In that time, though, Alex and her family have learned a lot about diabetes, and they're getting involved with the American Diabetes Association. Alex attended diabetes camp this summer, and her family led a successful Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes® team in the fall. "It's not so hard," she says about living with the disease. "[But] if you cure diabetes, you don't have to have shots or blood tests anymore."
Alex's experience with diabetes may be different from yours—and that's the point. This November, American Diabetes Month® focuses on A Day in the Life of Diabetes. The month will include events that promote awareness, highlighting the extent of diabetes and the diverse people it affects.
Part of the ADM plan is to reveal a mosaic that embodies the Day in the Life theme. Beginning in October, anyone affected by diabetes was asked to post an image that symbolizes the day-to-day realities of diabetes on the ADA's Facebook wall (see "Show and Tell," below).
"We know that diabetes impacts everyone in different ways," says Geralyn Spollett, MSN, ANP-BC, CDE, president of health care and education for the ADA. "Social media is a great way for the community to express themselves and demonstrate to others what daily life with diabetes means to them. Whether you are living with the disease, a caregiver, or just a friend of a person with diabetes, the number of people diabetes touches on a daily basis is vast and we want to show that."
The ADM campaign will include online and in-person programs. The in-person events will vary by region. No matter where you live, though, you can connect with the ADA via Facebook and Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn). ADA leaders say that at the heart of American Diabetes Month is a call to action for individuals to take a public stand to support the movement to Stop Diabetes®.
American Diabetes Month is also a time for education. The ADA, in partnership with CVS/pharmacy's ExtraCare Advantage for Diabetes savings program, will offer education about the extent of diabetes, the toll it takes on people's health, and its cost to individuals. Other organizations get involved, too. Betsy D. Simon, MS, CHES, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. health awareness leader, will work with the ADA's Baltimore office to provide diabetes education to other women. "I think [ADM is] important because it's started to bring a focus to diabetes," Simon says. "It allows the community to take a look at the science" involved in improving the lives of people with diabetes and searching for a cure.
Bringing together education and community can be a good refresher course for people who have had diabetes for years, and can be an eye-opening relief for the newly diagnosed. Alex's mother, Terri King, says that when her family ran into Anne Dennis, a senior manager at the ADA's Albuquerque, N.M., office, she didn't know the first thing about diabetes. Now, talking with other people who deal with diabetes every day, she feels confident and ready to share Alex's story—and to learn from others' stories as well. "It's not just you," she says. "There are all these other people dealing with it."