Please note that this blog post solely reflects my personal opinions and is shared in the mindset of advocacy. Aside from the obvious point of being my parents’ daughter, there is no official affiliation to any of the people or organizations discussed here.
Heavy snow accumulations whited out the New England landscape as my father and I drove quietly into town to shop for a new ski parka. We were going to make a pit stop first, though. Some new research had just come out regarding a diabetes cure, and my father was on a mission to learn more. My teenage self was along for the ride.
We entered the medical library of my father’s alma mater. He had written down the name and page of the medical journal. There, I got my introduction to Faustman Lab. We photocopied the article, returned to the slushy streets, and eventually purchased a ski jacket.
I still have that jacket today, and to be honest, I’ll probably hoard it with my diabetes supplies for a while. Its shade is quite similar to the hue of the diabetes blue circle that so many of us wear loudly and proudly on our social media profiles. That jacket invokes a memory of hope for me, and it just seems wrong to throw it away- at least not until I’m cured.
When I was a young child, my father would tell me about the epic party that we would have when type one diabetes was cured. All of our friends and family would come over. There would be a carbs-only buffet. Pizza, pasta, bagels, muffins, cake, ice cream, Skittles, and more would constitute the main course.
After test driving my resurrected islet cells with a carb overload, the group would congregate on the front lawn. There would be a folding table in the center. And a hammer.
Dad would bring out the diabetes supplies- the blood glucose meters, the syringes, the vials of insulin no longer needed. We would raise the hammer high above our heads while the crowd watched. With as much force as we could muster, we would lower the hammer down onto the table full of supplies. We would smash what signified diabetes into smithereens. The heavy scent of insulin would fill the air as the glass vials shattered. The needles would be gone forever. My parents’ hearts would be sewed back together, and I could be a carefree kid who did not have to interrupt playground time to prick her finger and drink juice boxes like a champ.
My father’s diabetes cure party dream seems a bit dramatic when I reflect on it now. Alas, I totally get it. My parents were chasing their daughter around with needles, intercepting steeeeep blood glucose crashes due to NPH and R, not sleeping much, and doing it all over again the next day. Now, I have inherited those duties as an adult with more diabetes-friendly treatment options thanks to modern science. Yet the task remains difficult, and my hat remains tipped to all of the diabetes parents and diabetics out there.
Although the everyday ups and downs of diabetes caused some trying moments in our familial relationships, I know in my heart that my parents have never let their cure dreams fizzle out. Following their stoic example, I, too, dared to dream big, to imagine a world without diabetes. On the bad days those cure dreams have been my mental rosary beads. If I cling to the cure faith hard enough, it somehow sees me through the day.
Every generation has a moral obligation to make the world a better place. I have to believe that diabetes will be cured in my lifetime. Why not set our sights high? Time and time again throughout human history, dreaming big has paid off exponentially. If we do not dream big enough, though, we are stuck in a status quo of sorts.
Sure, modern technology makes life easier and has great potential for the future. I will always support anything that improves quality of life with diabetes. I will certainly take advantage of a perfected artificial pancreas system when the time comes if it means that I can feel better and stick around longer. But I will never stop advocating for the ultimate dream: to tell my future kids and grandkids that I had diabetes and that they will never have to worry about it thanks to a cure.
Due to my close proximity to Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as my father’s great interest in cure research, I have been blessed to donate blood and spend some time at Faustman Lab. (Full disclosure here: I am positively-biased as heck when it comes to Faustman Lab. While I find Dr. Denise Faustman’s diabetes cure research to be innovative and promising, I also appreciate her great value to the medical community aside from my own cure hopes. Dr. Faustman is one of the brightest minds and biggest personalities in medicine, and if I am going to put my faith in anyone to advance autoimmune disease research, it is her.)
Perusing the positive press about Faustman Lab’s Phase II clinical trials this week allows that cure faith to stay alive in my heart. No matter what my personal outcome is with diabetes during my stint on earth, I will be able to say that I lived in a time when great strides were made towards lessening the toll of diabetes. This is thanks to the hard work of Faustman Lab, other great research projects, our outspoken advocates, and the people who never let go of the dream.
One day my future kids and I will pile into the car to go shopping for ski parkas. I won’t have to pack extra juice boxes or check their blood glucose levels before hitting the slopes. We will warm up by drinking hot chocolate without pre-bolusing. On the car ride home, they’ll describe their big dreams, and I’ll do my best Kevin Garnett impression while telling them that anything is possible. Heck, we cured diabetes, kids.
Anything is possible.