Last week saw the launch of the Freestyle Libre in Australia. I was one of the few invited to speak to the media about my experience using the Libre (you can read my interview here). Despite contributing to magazine articles and blogs, doing interviews are something I get really nervous about. Especially seeing how diabetes have been reported in the past with terms like ‘compliance’, ‘lifestyle disease’, ‘diabetic’ and my absolute favourite: ‘diabetic sufferer’.
I live with diabetes. I manage it day to day the best I can and do everything to ensure it doesn’t hold me back from the things I want to achieve. Just like anyone else in life. Everyone has their own battles – that’s just life. But you don’t see news headlines labelling people as ‘life sufferers’.
To call me a diabetic sufferer implies I live in constant pain. Sure, it sucks to live with diabetes both emotionally and physically. But it’s also because of diabetes that I have become empowered in taking better care of my health. It’s because of diabetes that I have had the opportunity to meet very inspirational role models around the world. Because of diabetes, I have learned to be more grateful for things people take for granted like access to basic healthcare, education and supplies and moments of win with diabetes (aka not raging high after a kebab or pizza or pasta!).
I do not want pity from people when they hear that I have diabetes. I am just a normal person working hard to raise awareness of diabetes, hoping to make an impact in the world and who occasionally gorges on hot chips and chicken nuggets. Diabetes does not and should not define me.
Language plays such an important role for people living with chronic conditions. It has the power to inspire or isolate people. That’s why I’m grateful that Diabetes Australia developed and released a Language Position Statement five years ago.
Five. Freaking. Years. Ago.
Yet we still see endearing terms like ‘diabetic sufferers’ in the news. Living with diabetes is tough enough as it is. We don’t need to be throwing language around that makes people with diabetes feel that there is no hope in living an amazing life after being diagnosis. Because there is hope and many fine examples of people living a full life while managing diabetes!