People to Know 2016: Lisa Hepner
When I met Lisa in New York City over lunch, she told me she was making a film about diabetes. That’s nice, I thought. Then she began to talk about it, and I was mesmerized by her energy and commitment.
Lisa, who’s had type 1 diabetes for 25 years, and her cinematographer husband, Guy Mossman, are covering ViaCyte’s breakthrough stem cell trial to cure type 1 diabetes. Their film, The Human Trial, is their way of helping people with diabetes understand why we still don’t have a cure.
We’ve all been told at diagnosis there will be a cure within five to 10 years. And we’ve hoped. I was told this 44 years ago, when I was diagnosed.
Guy came up with the idea for the film after Lisa had a terrifying nighttime low. “We have to make a film [about] why diabetes needs to be cured,” says Guy. There has never been such a film before.
And there’s a need: “The trouble is [that] many of us with type 1 look too healthy for people to take it seriously,” Lisa says. I agree completely. Most people in my life don’t understand what I do on a daily basis to manage my diabetes.
“I worked for many years not to define myself as a person with diabetes,” Lisa says. “Making a film would make that so public, but I wanted to tell people they shouldn’t give up hope.”
The Human Trial is documenting the Herculean effort it takes to get a drug or device to patients. According to Forbes magazine, pharmaceutical companies spend more than $5 billion annually on research and development for each drug that makes it to market. “I don’t think the general public understands that,” says Lisa. “I want people to see the reality behind cure research, to know there are many talented researchers innovating.”
To learn more about The Human Trial (or to make a donation), visit the film’s website, thehumantrial.com.
Riva Greenberg is a diabetes advocate, inspirational speaker, and author of such books as 50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life and the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It. She’s lived with type 1 diabetes for 44 years. Read more from Riva at diabetesstories.com.