D-Blog Day. An open letter to the media.

It’s November 9th, and that means it’s D-Blog day. Today, the entire Diabetes Online Community is encouraged to write a post of similar topic on their personal blogs. And today, we’re encouraged to share them with media outlets far and wide. Want to include yours? Write your post and link it here: http://diabetestalkfest.com/blog/?p=507

Our topic today:

Choose a form of Media Outlet to write an open letter to, such as NY Times, CNN, Local/National Newspapers, TV and why it is so important for them to let the world know that diabetes is more than just being overweight and having too much sugar. It is about reporting stories about Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Let them know what kind of things you would like them to write about. If there are specific articles or reports they got wrong, let them know about it! Let’s get it right!

My letter is going to all of the local TV stations here in my city, and it goes like this:

Dear News Director,

We’re in the middle of a very important month for me, and others like me. November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Next Wednesday, November 14 is World Diabetes Day.

I’ve been living with Type 1 diabetes for nearly 22 years, from the time I was 28 years old. I’d like to take the opportunity during this important month to talk about how your organization covers diabetes over the course of the entire year. Over the years, I’ve seen stories about diabetes reported many times, and some of those times, I’ve become concerned about how diabetes is covered, or how issues related to diabetes are covered. I’m very concerned about how this affects the way people with and without diabetes view each other. So if I may, let me dispel a few diabetes myths.

Diabetes is all the same. Actually, there are many types of diabetes. The most common is Type 2, where the body has trouble using the insulin it produces. About 90% of new diagnoses are Type 2. There’s Type 1, which is an autoimmune disease characterized by the destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. But there’s also Type 1.5, or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (or LADA), which researchers are still discovering more about, and Gestational Diabetes, where women have high blood glucose levels only during their pregnancy. It’s discovered in about 4 percent of all pregnant women.

It’s important to note the differences in diabetes, because while we all have the same serious, chronic condition, the way we approach and treat the different forms of diabetes can vary widely.

Diabetes is preventable. Let me say it clearly: People don’t get diabetes from too much sugar, or by being overweight. I developed Type 1 diabetes because my body’s immune system attacked my pancreas and killed the insulin-producing cells there. I was in great shape, at an optimal weight, active all the time, and otherwise, very healthy. In addition, many Type 2s are diagnosed without being overweight and while maintaining healthy diets.

Diabetes can be cured. Actually, it can’t. We can help mitigate the effects of diabetes through diet, exercise, and overall blood glucose management, but we can’t cure diabetes through drugs, or meditation, or blueberry yogurt, or anything. Anyone who says different is woefully under-informed.

People with diabetes cannot eat sugar. In fact, we can eat sugar. We just have to have the appropriate amount of insulin to account for it (your body already does this all by itself). We can also hold down a job, compete in athletics, bear and raise children, and do all of the other things that non-diabetics can do.

Those are just a few misconceptions I’m hoping you can help put to rest.

So, how can you help? What can you do to report on diabetes in an accurate, compassionate way? I would invite you to add media@diabetesadvocates.org to your e-mail contact list. Diabetes Advocates is a non-profit group of knowledgeable patients dedicated to advocating for, among other things, accuracy in reporting on diabetes. By using the e-mail address above, reporters can fact-check and get questions answered by people… actual patients… in the know. In case you’re wondering, I have no affiliation with this group. But I believe in what they do.

Through your efforts, your organization can help communicate a true, accurate portrayal of diabetes and People With Diabetes, and our many unique qualities. You can help dispel myths for those not living with this disease; reduce fear among those newly diagnosed or those at risk of developing this disease; and promote a positive message for everyone affected by diabetes. And that’s everyone.

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