For National Diabetes Week this year, I sat down with Katie from Beta Change and my good friend and champion advocate for young adults with type 2 diabetes, Lou, to chat about the importance of a timely diabetes diagnosis and what living with an invisible condition is like. These themes tie in closely with the campaigns driven by Diabetes Australia and Diabetes Victoria and they are topics close to our hearts. But what struck me most from the conversation was how do we know if our diabetes advocacy is having an impact.
Many of us share our diabetes story to the point where it feels like we are a broken tape recorded. But we must not stop sharing our stories and advocating for people within our community and standing up against stigma and discrimination.
For me, rewarding moments come when I hear someone’s narrative around diabetes change to something with a more compassionate and inclusive depth and perspective. The special warm and fuzzy moments come when people say to me almost in an embarrassed way that they once held negative stereotypes around people with type 2 diabetes. Knowing that my story had helped to give them a different insight and understanding around type 2 diabetes is extremely humbling.
The fact that I have influenced these few individuals and they are now changing their narrative and advocating for people with type 2 diabetes is the best outcome I could ever hope for. It gives me hope and reason to keep doing what I do. If we can help one person with diabetes feel less alone and isolated, we’re on the right track.
It is easy for us to be encapsulated within our own bubble. But diabetes advocacy isn’t always just about talking about ourselves and our story. It’s about throwing away the judgement and having an open mind and heart. It’s about listening, showing compassion, empathy and kindness to others especially if you don’t know someone’s story. So let’s keep sharing our story, standing up for what we believe in and listening to others.