Tomorrow marks the 23rd annual American Diabetes Association Alert DaySM, a day when the American Diabetes Association urges people to learn their risk for type 2 diabetes. It is a day when thousands of people take the Diabetes Risk Test. It is a day when they may learn some of the less commonly known risk factors for type 2 diabetes. It is a day when this awareness campaign may help someone prevent developing their own type 2 diabetes.
It is also a day when I personally get a lot of questions – why should I, as someone with type 1 diabetes, support Diabetes Alert Day? Do I realize I could not have prevented my own diabetes? The Diabetes Risk Test doesn’t indicate that I’m at any type of risk for diabetes, so what does it have to do with me? The short answer to this is: Diabetes Alert Day is bigger than me, and it’s bigger than my diabetes. Diabetes Alert Day is about helping people avoid some of the feelings of frustration I’ve been through.
Sure, I know that my type 1 diabetes was not avoidable (although I sure hope it will be one day!). But for the 79 million Americans living with prediabetes, a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes may be something that can be delayed or even avoided if they learn their risk and take steps to change it. And for another 7 million people, Diabetes Alert Day is an opportunity to learn that they already have diabetes, excelling them onto the path to good management rather than living with a disease they don’t know about as it damages their health.
For those of us who already have diabetes, Diabetes Alert Day is an opportunity to tell the people we love that we don’t want them to go through anything similar to what we’ve experienced – the finger pricks, the financial burden, the endless medical appointments (and endless paperwork) and the worry that you always have to do something else to be as healthy as possible. Diabetes Alert Day is one of the many ways we join together to Stop Diabetes® and have an impact on the future of the diabetes epidemic.
I just want to say that I hope you will join me tomorrow, over the next month, and across the years in sharing the Diabetes Risk Test with your loved ones to let them know that you don’t ever want them to hear the words, “you have diabetes.” But if they do, then show them support and provide an example of what it means to live well with diabetes.
Stay tuned for more information tomorrow, and thanks for listening.