This Diabetic Can – by Helen May
When I read the theme for Diabetes Week in 2016 would be about “Setting the Record Straight”, I started to think of the myths that I would love to be busted. Sure there is the one about eating sweets causing Type 1 diabetes, or the one about thin people not being able to get diabetes or the one about the cure for diabetes. Whilst these are annoying, the one that frustrates me most is that I can’t do something because I have diabetes.
In the past I have blogged about climbing the Himalayas, sailing across the channel (and being seasick), tracking gorillas in Uganda, rock climbing in Italy, getting a boyfriend, starting a new, challenging job and starting running. Diabetes has not held me back in any of these activities and I have never thought that I can’t do any of them because I have diabetes. But there seems to be this myth that it should.
I have been questioned by people without diabetes whether I should be doing something “in my condition” and having to correct them is annoying. However, the biggest concern to me is those who have diabetes, or are responsible for people with diabetes who let the condition stop them doing what they want. Sure there are complications of diabetes which may make life harder. But, you only have to look at the Paralympics to realise the power of desire.
I have stolen the title of this post from a campaign led by Sport England to get more girls and women doing sport: “This Girl Can“. It made me wonder whether the diabetes community could launch something similar. A campaign showing off famous (and not so famous) people with diabetes doing amazing things. There are sports stars such as Sir Stephen Redgrave, Gary Mabbutt, Alan Scot and Henry Slade. There are celebrities such as Mari Wilson and Arthur Smith. Teresa May is a politician (and I would be surprised if she is the only one with diabetes). Then there are less famous people in impressive roles: what about an architect or surgeon or referee with diabetes?
Just think of the power of these role models to someone (young or old) who has just heard the scary news that they (or their loved one) has diabetes? If they knew that diabetes didn’t hold these people back, surely it would help them live their dream.
I appreciate that diabetes is not to be taken lightly and we don’t want to dilute the message that it is a very serious condition, but that doesn’t mean we also have to give the impression that people with diabetes have to be wrapped up in cotton wool and can’t achieve their dreams.