Guest Columnist

Guest column McKenzie Graham Robinson Reflecting on successes in diabetes fight

(Dreamstime/TNS)
(Dreamstime/TNS)

This National Diabetes Awareness Month (NDAM) exceeded expectations in both education and inspiration for the diabetes community.

Specifically at JDRF, we were inundated with stories of Type 1 diabetes (T1D) champions, and had the pleasure to highlight many on our social media outlets.

From a woman who has been living with T1D for 56 years and is working hard everyday to ensure her health and longevity, to a 9-year-old who was diagnosed just over a year ago who does not let this relentless disease stop her from participating in two sports simultaneously and beating out most kids her age, the stories that hit my inbox this month reinforced the need for a cure and progressive treatments along the way to ensure healthy individuals until that day comes.

JDRF is the organization most poised to create a world without T1D. Locally, we host several events throughout the year including the Promise Gala, One Walk and the Ride to Cure Diabetes, all with the goal of funding life-changing research and the biological cure.

We also host many community events to bring together those affected by this disease. Without a support system, T1D can be an isolating diagnosis. We provide a channel for caretakers of, and individuals with T1D to come together to know they are not alone in their struggles or their triumphs. As an autoimmune disease with the constant need for monitoring and lifesaving adjustments, there are no days off; the community one leans on is of immense importance.

I was lucky enough this NDAM to be invited to JDRF’s 2019 One Conference, which every two years brings chapter team and volunteer leaders together to strengthen our collective ability to advance vision and mission. The message delivered there was very clear and gives me much hope after living with this disease for nearly 22 years.

We have come a long way and have seen it become easier now to live with T1D than it was 30, 20, or even 10 years ago. JDRF has played a key role in the discovery and availability of nearly every major T1D advance over the past 50 years.

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With that said, there is so much we still need to do. The science and the technology have progressed so that we are closer than ever to transforming how we live with and beat this disease, but T1D remains very hard to manage and live with. JDRF makes a difference across the entire pipeline, from basic research through FDA approvals. Our advocacy teams, local and national, are working tirelessly with elected officials from both parties to pass the Special Diabetes Program, and change legislation regarding T1D. We need to make sure that everyone with T1D can afford the advancements that JDRF funds. No one should have an insurance company tell them which pump they can use, and no one should have to ration insulin and risk their life in order to make ends meet.

As I reflect over my experiences this NDAM, the message is clear: we need to engage more people, we need to inspire more action, and yes, we need to raise more money. I am confident that if we move forward in these ways, we will create a world in which it is easier to live with T1D and will finally bring the cure our loved ones need and so hope for.

McKenzie Graham Robinson is the development manager at the Eastern Iowa JDRF, formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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