#standtogether for International #Diabetes Awareness Month?

logoOK so this morning it would be true to say I am saddened. For months it’s been my morning habit to look at twitter on my phone even before I get out of bed. I search “diabetes” to see what’s “trending right now” – get me using the lingo, and at my age too!

This morning I woke up in a good mood. I didn’t get out of bed in a good mood. Negativity! That’s what was trending at 6:00am this morning. I reckon I can’t be the only twitter user that finds negativity a big turn off, can I?

Two main twitter threads struck me. The first tweet thread was about the language associated with diabetes, and second was castigation of an American politician. Personally I have no strong views about the language used around diabetes. I have no strong views about what a politician may or may not have said about diabetes – probably because I didn’t hear the debate. But what I did feel strongly was that reading some really quite nasty comments at 6:00am didn’t warm me towards the tweeters making them.

My point is this: as we approach the start of Diabetes Awareness Month what face does the diabetes community want to present to the rest of the world? Are the big issues really about language, or about what a politician says in a debate? If in November awareness for diabetes gets raised – my use of the word “if” is deliberate and I will explain – are these the issues we would like the world to fix? Homestly? I think there are more beneficial issues to be resolved.

cement logoHere’s my observation: few people are even aware there is a World Diabetes Awareness Month or a World Diabetes Day looming. The blue circle logo is not instantly recognised. How do I know? Because I’ve been asking people. I’ve asked people for whom diabetes is not a current concern. I’ve asked people already concerned or whose lives are affected by diabetes – Type 1 or Type 2. Yesterday I asked a room full of business owners what did a blue circle mean to them. Most looked blank and shook their heads. The builder in the group said confidently, “it’s a brand of cement!” He’s right. In the UK, at least, Blue Circle is a brand of cement and it has pretty much the same logo some of us associate with diabetes awareness!

A couple of days ago, there I was sitting on the loo in a motorway services on the M62 – please don’t let that image traumatise you! Right there on the door of my cubicle was an awareness poster for McMillan Cancer Trust. And it struck me there and then that there is a yawning gap to be bridged between the level of awareness the public has, and embraces, about cancer, and the level of awareness that currently exists about diabetes. The same people who didn’t know about the blue circle could tell me all about pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness, and they knew about coffee mornings for McMillan!

Here’s my personal plan for Diabetes Awareness Month: I am going to do my very very best to bring diabetes to the attention of as many people as I can – at home and abroad. I’m going to do that as positively as I can, but without shying away from issues that some might find difficult. I know that you’ll probably like some of the stuff I share over the next few weeks, and there may be some stuff you’ll be not so keen on. That’s OK. I’m going to join in with as many positive initiatives as I can – thunderclap here we come – and I’m going to hope that people will embrace some of my offerings too. With open minds and open hearts and a willingness to work collaboratively, collectively and collegiately we CAN make the world at large aware that there is a diabetes awareness month. That WDD exists. At the very least!

I don’t care if you are Type 1, Type 2, at risk of diabetes, have relatives coping with diabetes, are just looking to avoid diabetes. If you are one of the people who is moved by diabetes in any way may I ask please will you be a bit more positively vocal and visible this November? Please will you share stuff you like, celebrate success stories, and stay positive to help raise awareness? If (I said I would come back to “if”) we manage to raise a meaningful level of awareness, a level to equal cancer awareness, how about we present ourselves in a way that will attract the public to get behind the cause for diabetes? For the good of everyone affected by diabetes.

#standtogether is for us!

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