I write about diabetes almost every day. I write to inform you about the latest diabetes news, diabetes technology, and diabetes research. When I share my personal stories about living with diabetes, I try to weave in humor. I want to make you smile so that you remember that we can live well and be happy despite diabetes. But the truth is that diabetes is not a laughing matter. Diabetes is a serious, life-threatening illness that affects over 200 million people around the world. There is nothing funny about it.
Today I’m writing to you to put forth a version of a question the popular advice columnist Ann Landers presented to her readers in 1971. “Dear Readers,” Ann wrote. “If you are looking for a laugh today, you’d better skip Ann Landers. If you want to be part of an effort that might save millions of lives—maybe your own—please stay with me. . . . How many of us have asked the question, ‘If this great country of ours can put a man on the moon why can’t we find a cure for cancer?’”*
Why can’t we?
And why can’t we find a cure for diabetes?
I have type 1 diabetes and so does my husband. I am constantly aware of the seriousness of diabetes, and of how much the world needs better diabetes care and a cure for diabetes. I know you’re aware, too, because you’re here reading this. But my awareness and your awareness are not enough. My colleague, Karmel Allison, reminded me of this last week.
Karmel attended a breakfast and discussion hosted by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), and she was moved by the words of the president of the IDF, Jean Claude Mbanya, and the CEO, Ann Keeling, as they spoke about the tragedy of diabetes care worldwide. They brought to light the fact that one’s fate as a diabetic depends so much on one’s country of origin, and the fact that a child with diabetes born in Mozambique has only seven months to live from the disease’s onset. Given the increasing prevalence of diabetes worldwide, Mbanya and Keeling argued, we cannot stand by idly, and we cannot let our nations’ leaders do so either.
After the IDF breakfast event, Karmel wrote an email to me, Isabella Platon, Head of Communications of the IDF, and several other diabetes writers. She said, “I’ve been thinking about the recent events, and the take-home message from the IDF event, which Manny Hernandez nicely summed up. We should get President Barack Obama to show up at the upcoming UN Summit on global health issues (non-communicable diseases) on Sept. 19 in New York City.” The presence of the leader of the United States, Karmel understood, is crucial at the UN Summit if it is to have the impact and sway that we people with diabetes know it needs.
We should use a letter-writing campaign, Karmel suggested, to get our message to President Obama. Karmel was inspired by a story in Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Emperor of All Maladies, A Biography of Cancer– the story about a tremendous letter writing campaign in 1971, when Americans called out not just for a medical cure for cancer, but for a political cure, too.
In today’s world a letter writing campaign might seem primitive to some, but it’s effective.
A letter carries weight.
Thanks to the quick work of the IDF, we have a letter writing campaign at our fingertips that doesn’t even require a walk to the mailbox. The IDF has given us the opportunity to call out for improving diabetes care in all ways by sending postcards to President Obama. To participate in this campaign go to the Diabetes Outrage page and fill out one of the ready-to-go postcards, or create your own. Click on “submit,” and the IDF will print and mail your card.
If President Obama attends the UN Summit, it will help diabetes be recognized as the devastating epidemic that it is. It will help the world understand that improving diabetes care is imperative, that finding a cure for diabetes is urgent.
To send a postcard go to http://idf.org/O_is_for_OUTRAGE
*Excerpted from: The Emperor of All Maladies, A Biography of Cancer