People to Know 2014: Tom Reed
Rep. Tom Reed has your back. As a member of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, he’s made a career of fighting for people with diabetes. But it’s more than that. The Republican congressman knows what it means to represent the more than 29.1 million Americans living with diabetes—he lived with diabetes himself.
Reed, 42, of Corning, New York, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2006. After undergoing gastric bypass surgery in 2013, his diabetes went into remission. He’s since lost 110 pounds and continues to focus on healthy living. But his passion for diabetes awareness goes beyond himself: His 14-year-old son, Will, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 4.
Reed uses his diabetes history to educate his fellow members of Congress. He tells other members, constituents, and even reporters about the struggles and successes families with diabetes go through.
“I share the stories of watching my son over the last 10 years deal with the disease, the impact it has on him seven days a week,” he says. “I had to hold him down while we were at the emergency room, and he was crying, ‘Daddy, why are you letting these people hurt me?’ as he got his first injection. Now he’s on the pump.”
Reed believes talking about his experiences—on the floor of Congress and at town hall meetings—can help dispel myths and misunderstandings about diabetes. He meets with others who have diabetes and gives them a platform to share their stories. He wants other Americans to know that diabetes hasn’t been cured yet and that it negatively impacts millions of people, but that they can still live long, healthy lives.
Reed has a personal stake in the House budget when he pledges to allocate more resources toward making life better for people with diabetes. He can feel it: We’re closer than ever to our ultimate goal.
“Hearing [about] the technology and the research that’s being done, I am more and more confident every day that we’re going to find a cure,” Reed says. “It’s just a matter of getting to the finish line.”
Lindsey Wahowiak is a health writer and editor in Washington, District of Columbia. She still gets goose bumps riding her bike past the Capitol.