Diabetes Awareness Month “schwag”

Mari Ruddy wrote a great response to my post (on A Sweet Life ) about diabetes being in the shadow of breast cancer. Ruddy is founder of Team WILD (Women Inspiring Life with Diabetes) and also a breast cancer survivor and said:

The biggest thing I learned from the cancer community of survivors, is “dont feel sorry for yourself.” take action. DO SOMETHING. Don’t just talk about it. And they made it relate-able to everyone. In diabetes, we don’t quite yet do this. There’s a lot of feeling sorry for ourselves. There’s a lot of energy we have to put into self care, so sometimes I think it feels to us and maybe to others, that we want OTHERS to take care of us, take care of the recognition, the celebration. That’s NOT what happens in the cancer community.

Those women and men too… they are DOING stuff!!!!!!!! They are organizing walks and races and runs.
So I would ask the diabetes community, what can WE DO???? It’s why I joined the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure and brought the Red Rider Program to life! It’s why I now have founded and direct Team WILD – to teach people with diabetes how to be athletes first. Eventually Team WILD will have hundreds, even thousands of people with diabetes ready to show up at races, to run our own races!!!

Ruddy’s words have inspired me and I want to do something for the month of November. I want to figure out a way to give back to the diabetes community. But what? What can I do? What do I have time and the resources to do?

When I opened the newspaper this morning the front page had photographs from the local Susan G. Komen run. A sweeping sea of pink filled the photograph making the women look as if they were a group of one instead of a mass of individuals. And I was jealous. How ridiculous it that!?! But it’s true…I want to be standing in a crowd of sweaty women wearing the same color tee-shirt after a 5k run where we collectively have raised thousands of dollars for diabetes.I want to stand in a group of women who know what it feels like to live with this disease, and who are pounding the pavement to raise awareness.

I went out on my own run this morning, glad to be alone, glad to breathe in the cool fall air and as I settled into a good pace, began thinking about diabetes awareness month. I thought, the least I can do is find a local walk for a cure. I’ll even drive to Columbia, SC if I have to. I picked up my pace and began to get excited thinking maybe I could organize an event: a wine tasting, or an art auction. I hurried home to begin my search. Leaning over my keyboard, wiping the sweat from my brow, I quickly discovered that there are no local JDRF or ADA walks for a cure. The closest one is over an hour away and oddly enough, it’s on October 30th, the day before Halloween, a very busy and exciting day for our family. Looking at the calendar and noting that November was only weeks away, I realized there was no time to plan an wine tasting or art auction. Shoot, I thought, and went to plan B. I’ll buy some diabetes merchandise, I can wear a diabetes tee shirt and slap a bumper sticker on my car to bring attention to the month. There, problem solved.

Not quite. Have you ever looked for diabetes tee-shirts? The availability is bleak. I don’t like the ADA logo with the blood on the finger tip, it kind of grosses me out. And the slogan Stop Diabetes doesn’t make sense to me….stop? what does that mean? It’s too late to stop diabetes in my body. JDRF shirts are a little better, but still geared toward kids. So where, where are the cute, sassy tee shirts for Smart Women? And what is our color anyway? Are we blue or red? And are we “curing” diabetes or “stopping” diabetes? Why can’t I find a walk, a shirt or even a bumper sticker?

Could this be the source of our struggle to become a force like breast cancer survivors?

I sighed and went into the playroom to stretch. Maybe for the month of November I’ll start small, I thought. Maybe I’ll donate some Smart Woman’s Guide books to local hospitals or schools. Maybe I’ll sign up for career day at my kid’s school and talk to the students about diabetes. Maybe I don’t need the schwag of cancer paraphernalia to draw attention to this disease. Maybe I’ll just get up every morning in the month of November and have a quiet moment thinking about diabetes before I get out of bed. I stood in the downward dog position and tried to hold my balance while Reid crawled beneath me as if I was a bridge, laughing hysterically.

One step at a time.

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