I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be an advocate. A group of people recently traveled to Washington DC to advocate for diabetes among our Congressmen.
Another group of people were invited to California to advocate for the causes of people with diabetes to interested parties at Medtronic.
There was a press release for an episode of True Life on MTV that was reworded in response to contact from the diabetes community.
Even Reader’s Digest – my source for quality jokes when I was a kid – was recently targeted in social media forums by people with diabetes who were upset about an upcoming special edition.
Two years ago, a group of people touched by diabetes traveled to Indiana to meet with a pharmaceutical company and share their thoughts and opinions on how best to work with people with diabetes. Last year, I joined the group in Orlando and together we spoke with the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators about how to navigate the world of social media without alienating their audience. This summer I will be with the group again as we meet in San Diego.
There is a Twitter chat on Sunday night on healthcare communications in social media and another one on Wednesday nights about diabetes and social media advocacy. You can even listen to blogtalk radio shows on the same topics the next day.
There are countless blogs, vlogs, tweets, forums, message boards, and even books all about diabetes. I even am a member of a group called Diabetes Advocates – you can see the badge in the bottom corner of my page on my other blog.
So, what does all that mean? What is an advocate?
First of all, a definition is important, so let’s consult the dictionary.
An advocate has several related meanings
  • To speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly.
  • A person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc.
  • A person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor.
I find it interesting that there is even evidence of the usage of the word advocate in the New Testament of the Bible. When Jesus is explaining the Holy Spirit that will come to the people after he returns to heaven, He describes the Spirit as an advocate – and the word in Greek particularly means

“one who pleads another’s cause, who helps another by defending or comforting him. (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7, Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary)”

As a Christian, it is encouraging to me to find that the idea of being an advocate is not a new concept, but even more so, that being an advocate is not always about fighting on behalf of someone but can mean actually being a comfort.
If you look through my archive you won’t find a copy of the e-mails I sent to Reader’s Digest or MTV. If you search through my tweets you won’t find more than one or two with comments to share with the people at Medtronic and not an @readersdigest in the bunch. The controversy about MTV barely hit my radar except for reading the expertly written post by someone whose name rhymes with shmabby shmayer.
I usually participate in my local JDRF walks and had a meeting (that went nowhere) with the local representatives about increasing the adult Type 1 involvement, but that is the extent of my connection with them.
Regardless –
I am an advocate.
I advocate by sharing my life. Not just my life with diabetes. I used to feel guilty about that. Not anymore. This is my life.
I advocate by sharing about all the aspect of my life.
You may think that someone with diabetes can’t go skydiving. I have.
sara 007
What about traveling to countries where the temperature reaches over 100 degrees, or those described as “third world” by some)? Done that too. Since diagnosis I’ve been to Mexico, Israel, Jordan, and Haiti.

My Indiana Jones Moment
Clayson and me

Snorkeling? So far, in the Red Sea and in the Caribbean.

Red Sea
Aquapac 2
Do people with diabetes heal slower and should avoid piercings and body art? Better not tell the ear I got pierced this weekend about that.

I advocate for the fact that diabetes cannot stop you living your life. Diabetes is not your life.

Are you an advocate?


  • Exactly!

    To me, being an advocate can mean a lot of things – but most of all, it’s about speaking up and sharing your story. It doesn’t have to be anything “big”, or official, or even organized.

    Great post, Sara!

    (And thanks for the shout-out!) 🙂

  • This is a badass (#soap?) post, Sara(aah). I agree that advocacy can take a million different forms, and that all advocates are crucial in their own different ways.

    Also, love your new earring.

    Also, also, love your Haiti posts.

    Also x3, LOL’ing currently at “shmabby shmayer.” 😉

  • I LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks, Sara….feeling very inspired after reading your words.

    Now I want to go save the world!

    PS (LOVE your use of the Bible!!!!)

  • Hi Sara,

    The saying by Martin Luther King Jr. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

    Apply perfectly to Advocacy. Your post says it well

    it’s awesome!

  • So I really do need to find a new lame excuse for not going to Haiti with my husband? ;o) Seriously though, awesome post and thanks for the inspiration. I’ve never let diabetes stop me from doing anything other than travel; travel has been my very last hang up (thanks for that one, mom!). No more excuses though. Great post.

  • Advocacy can refer to a lot of different activities. I have a preference for calling myself a “storyteller” than an “advocate”, but I’ve come to understand that “advocate” does describe at least some of what I do. And you, Sara? You are an *awesome* advocate.

  • Fabamatabuously written, my rocking advocate friend! Great post. I love it. Our voices do take so many forms, and I think that’s why this community is such a powerful group of advocates – because we’re all sharing so many different perspectives and participating in our own ways, all the while living our lives and advocating just by doing that. Love it. Thanks for being who you are and advocating as you do, Sara.

  • Sara — I LOVE THIS POST. I feel like there should be a video of 100 people fist-pumping at the end of this. Thank you for speaking so eloquently for all of us!


  • My grandparents told me this when I asked them why they were always standing up for others. ( I was 8 at the time).

    “When Hitler attacked the Jews

    I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned.

    And when Hitler attacked the Catholics,

    I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned.

    And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists,

    I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned.

    Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church —

    and there was nobody left to be concerned.”

    (Martin Niemoller, Congressional Record,

    October 14, 1968, page 31636)

    I was Senior in High School when I learned my Grandmothers Sister and her family died in a concentration camp.

  • Sara –

    I don’t think anyone has ever implied that you weren’t an advocate. Blogging, reading others blogs, living your life to it’s fullest potential, showing the world what you’re made and voicing your diabetes opinion, be it on a public or private scale, is advocating to the 20th degree in my book.

  • This is SO SO well written Sara! I didn’t know what exactly it means to call oneself an advocate and this is so encouraging!

    Thank you for the awesome post!

    “For God gave us a Spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” II Tim 1:7

    You are an awesome example of a T1 sister!


  • I believe all religion is about life and the life of religion is to do good. You live that clearly and are a particularly eloquent advocate doing so joyously.

  • Thank you for your article. I applaud you for being an advocate. Please remember since not all of us get invited to all expense paid forums doesn’t make us any less of advocate or diminish efforts toward awareness.

    I wish there are more Type 2 diabetics that share your enthusiasm to go the extra mile. I am surprised that other “diabetic advocates” have not noticed this. I am sure they were busy advocating. In all the groups that you mention the majority of them are Type 1 or 1.5.

  • Chrystal –

    Thanks for your comment. I sent you an e-mail with more information, but in case anyone else is reading through these comments – you can click on the link in the post for “Diabetes Advocates” to find out more about the group. You can apply for membership each year, and it is open to all people touched by diabetes.

    It isn’t about being invites to fancy forums, it’s about doing your part to let people know what it is like to live successfully with diabetes.

  • Yes, this diabetic advocate group is not new. I originally tried to sign up for it when it was first mention about 2 years ago and was ignored then denied. So now that it has resurfaced hopefully more organized doesn’t bring me warm fuzzies.

    Personally being a Type 2, I would like to focus on items that more Type 2 based. We have our own set of concerns like Type 1’s. Still there are more Type 1 diabetics on line and involve with awareness than Type 2. I know this is not a concern to Type 1’s but it is a concern to me since Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed. Finding one or two token folks is nice but numbers do not lie. 🙂

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