Life has been chaotic this year, and my own versions of advocacy have gone along for the up-and-down merry-go-round ride. I still want to blog about the insulin access workshop from April. Yes, April. (Insert disclosure that Lilly paid for my travel, hotel, and meals). There is so much to say and so little time to beat a figurative dead horse (which died from lack of insulin, in this figurative example). Yet I will express it at some point, because 1) I promised our community that I would, and 2) I am still wowed by my peers and those with big hearts who are dedicated to improving life with diabetes; these big hearts come in all shapes and sizes in healthcare; the workshop reinforced that idea for me.
There have been other exciting opportunities, too, and the blog posts have been drafted and re-drafted in my head for a long time now. I believe mentioning these feelings here is advocacy in and of itself. Sometimes this part of the merry-go-round of life simply is what it is. Advocacy can wax and wane and broaden and refocus as life dictates.
Reading and watching and writing poetry have encompassed a different avenue of creative expression for me. Poetry is freedom. Just go. It’s funny where and when the roots of an English major choose to spring up. I’m just happy to be writing in some capacity.
At a recent event with close friends and their families, one ventured to ask about diabetes advocacy. To respect privacy in this story, let’s call her Friend. Friend’s relative (let’s call her Relative) has dealt with type 1 diabetes for a large number of years. Diabetes remains difficult despite the gadgets and gizmos of 2017; I cannot imagine how tough it was way back in the day. Relative has faced her fair share of adversity in this life.
Friend’s daughter (let’s call her Daughter) explained, “Ally does a lot of diabetes advocacy work, and it’s really cool.” That statement shocked me back to reality, in a good way. Someone out there, aside from #DOC folks, actually cares about this!
I mean, I know people care. But it was refreshing to hear this outside of #DOC-land. There are people who look to our examples of advocacy and find hope. How humbling and, indeed, cool.
Friend was visibly excited to talk to me, and, likewise, I was inspired by her openness and respect for our community. Another round of drinks later, and there we still stood, steadfast in our shared mission.
“Why isn’t there a cure yet?” reverberated in our ears.
I have asked myself, God, and anyone who will listen that very question in the long 26 years since my type 1 diabetes diagnosis. To have someone else inquire the same of me was a long time coming. Not that anyone is to blame, per se. We all want a better world, one in which diabetes is buried with the dinosaur fossils.
But truly, why isn’t there a cure? We have the brain power. We have the amazing labs working steadfastly to help us. We see the faces of loved ones who represent why #weneedacure. My two cents are that we remain fragmented in an already-divisive society. We need to rally together and maintain hope that one day a cure will come. We are good eggs with sometimes-different goals, and that is okay. But our goals should center on paving the way for a better world- whether with diabetes, or (hopefully) without it. My response to Friend was something along those lines.
“Why are people dying because insulin is not affordable and accessible- not just abroad, but here in the United States, too?”
We discussed the name Shane Patrick Boyle. Keep saying his name. We talked about how diabetes advocacy is moving the dial on this issue, but we cannot rest yet. This disease is absolutely relentless. We have to keep showing that.
Friend and I left the event table knowing that we both still had seats at it. There is work to be done. Engagement in advocacy is fluid; such is life. But sometimes it takes seeing the other people affected by our work to know that we are advocating beyond ourselves. That is why we started this in the first place, and that is ultimately how we will finish it- together.
Thank you to Friend, Daughter, and Relative for reminding me why we do what we do, and for your loving support.