Diabetes Blog Week: Change the World, Change the Neighborhood

As I read the prompt for today’s Diabetes Blog Week post, I was struck by all the options. There are so many causes and issues related to living with diabetes and all of them are so important.

For a while I tried to be involved in every advocacy issue as I learned about it. This meant going beyond retweeting a link, sharing a status update, or submitting a comment to an FDA docket. I would come home from a work day spent mostly in front of a computer screen and spend the rest of the evening in front of a different computer screen. I spread myself so thin to the point that I don’t think I was very good at any of it and it certainly wasn’t healthy for me.

It took some time and reflection (and honestly, maturity) to realize that I can’t do everything. I know which issues are the closest to my heart. I know what I am good at and where my skills are most helpful. And more importantly, I know when someone else is a much better fit.

There are four (I know that still sounds like a lot!) places where I now feel the strongest pull in my advocacy heart. One local, one global, one primarily online, and one that doesn’t yet fit neatly into any of the boxes.

hope and funkThe first is obviously my volunteer work with my local JDRF chapter. Our big Hope Gala was last Friday and we had a record breaking event for our chapter, raising over $1.1 million dollars. I can’t donate anything close to that amount of money but I can donate my time and I can recruit other people to do the same. It takes over 200 volunteers to make an event like that successful, and I can help organize people to make that happen. If the things that I do allows my chapter to continue the work that they do – raising money, hosting outreach events, and supporting people living with diabetes – then I am happy to contribute what I can.

We can make great changes in the world of diabetes globally if we all invest in our communities and do everything we can to change the world of diabetes locally.

insulin in haitiWay back in fall of 2009, I started feeling a pull toward Haiti. I signed up to go on a mission/relief trip with the college where I worked. Six weeks before we left, Haiti experienced the devastating earthquake. We weren’t sure if we would still be able to go, and then when we found an organization that could house and feed us, I wasn’t sure if I would still be able to go. The doctor that did my vaccinations for the trip actually told me I shouldn’t go. No one knew if it would be safe for me to manage my diabetes while I was there. It wasn’t perfect, but I did it.

And I did it again a year later. I am unbelievably privileged to live where I live and have unbelievable access to the medications and technologies that I want. WANT. I get to choose what insulin to take, and what meter, pump, and CGM I prefer. 85 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes in Haiti do not survive their first year. There are many other countries with similarly devastating statistics. It is important to me to bring awareness to the issues of people living with diabetes around the world (start here).

Haiti in 2010

You Can Do This. Are there any words more powerful when in a moment of doubt? While working with the You Can Do This Project I have watched little kids talk about the excitement of conquering their first sleepover and my peers talking about navigating a successful pregnancy (or two) overcoming the doubts of doctors. I am proud to be on the Advisory Board for the You Can Do This Project and I am proud of the work I do representing the group at conferences and helping to edit the group video projects.

You CAN do this!

The first person with type 1 diabetes that I can remember meeting was the resident director on duty the night I ended up going to the hospital in DKA at diagnosis. My brain was not in the best shape at the time, but I remember him retrieving his pump from his pocket and saying something like, “I have diabetes. I know what this is and you are very sick. You need to go to the hospital tonight.” Managing diabetes as a young adult is not easy. BEING a young adult is not easy without diabetes. Working with that age is what my degrees trained me to do. I’ve been able to use that training to present with the College Diabetes Network and in a webinar with the American Diabetes Association. I’m not sure where this interest will lead me, but I’m still young. I’ve got plenty of time to figure it out.

“Let’s kick off Diabetes Blog Week by talking about the diabetes causes and issues that really get us fired up. Are you passionate about 504 plans and school safety? Do diabetes misconceptions irk you? Do you fight for CGM coverage for Medicare patients, SDP funding, or test strip accuracy? Do you work hard at creating diabetes connections and bringing support? Whether or not you “formally” advocate for any cause, share the issues that are important to you.”


  • Life for a Child. <3

    I didn't know that your work in Haiti started *unintentionally* right after the earthquake. What a trip.

    You're amazing. I'm glad to know you.

  • You are so inspiring. Thanks for sharing your four causes! I need to look into the You Can Do This Project; I’ve heard a lot about it!

  • Thanks for the heads up about the You Can Do This Project, that was a new one to me! I’m trying to figure out how to send my daughter on a sleepover, so it sounds relevant for sure. Great post!

    • You know what was interesting? The Executive Director for my JDRF chapter was struck by how many of my friends mentioned that they did not feel supported by their chapter. She mentioned what a shame that is and we know that’s not how it’s supposed to be, but how do we fix it?

  • You’ve already earned your spot up in heaven, Sara. Everything you’ve done so far is tremendous, and that you keep on going (with “only four” priorities) is remarkable. Of course, I trust you won’t be occupying that spot for a really, really long time.

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