The American Diabetes Association launched the Stop Diabetes® movement during American Diabetes Month (November) 2009. Since then, over 677,728 people have joined this movement to take a stand against this disease, demonstrating that even when it comes to a disease that affects each of us in different ways, we are stronger when we unite against it.
We have received countless questions about why we use the phrase Stop Diabetes, what that means, and why we insist on calling it a “movement” instead of a campaign.
Great questions – so here are a few answers:
You probably know the statistics – 23.6 million children and adults in the United States are living with diabetes, 1.6 million more are diagnosed each year, and 5.6 million of those living with it remain undiagnosed. Chances are that one out of every ten of your friends over the age of 20 has diabetes.
In short, diabetes is everywhere.
So when the American Diabetes Association conducted focus groups to better understand what the general public’s concept of diabetes is, it was no surprise that many people claimed to have some familiarity with the disease. What was a surprise, however, was that they didn’t think it was a big deal.
Conversations went like this:
“I know about diabetes. My aunt has diabetes.”
“And how is your aunt doing?”
“She’s fine – doing a lot better since her leg was amputated.”
Now, I appreciate a bright outlook on life as much as the next person, but I don’t think that could fit into my definition of “fine” – especially when it comes to a complication that is usually preventable. So that’s why the American Diabetes Association set out to create a movement against diabetes; not just a campaign, but the next big idea to change history.
Gutenberg gave us the printing press, Gandhi gave us nonviolent social change, and Jonas Salk gave us the polio vaccine. From civil rights to women’s suffrage, history books are filled with movements for change. Stop Diabetes is a call to harness our commitment against this disease and put diabetes in the history books.
So, then – what does Stop Diabetes mean? Many people had initially thought this to be a prevention message for type 2 diabetes. Prevention is certainly important, but it’s not called the “Stop your Diabetes” movement. The application of the words “Stop Diabetes” extends so much further than that.
Personally, I’d like people to stop whispering and pointing at “that thing” any time they see my insulin pump.
I’d like them to stop staring when I have to squeeze a drop of blood from the tip of my finger to check my blood glucose in a restaurant, an airport, a movie theater.
I’d like to stop worrying about potential complications every time my blood glucose goes too high or too low.
I’d also like to stop worrying that my sister might suddenly be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes – or that her future children will.
To me, Stop Diabetes addresses all of that. Stop the impact this disease has on my life and on our society as a whole. Stop the worry. Stop the fear. Stop the ignorance. Stop the discrimination. Stop Diabetes.
The goal of the Stop Diabetes movement is to grow to epic proportions, to be bigger than the disease itself. In short, it’s the answer to why the Association does the work that it does.
I hope it’s also the reason you take some sort of action to join the movement: to share, act, learn or give. It is my goal for this blog to share both of these aspects – what the American Diabetes Association is doing and what we hear from you that you’re doing to Stop Diabetes.
Personal stories (both yours and mine) will help us put a face on this disease as we raise our voices, our finger-pricked hands, our memories of loved ones lost, and join in this movement to change the history of diabetes.