November ushers in National Diabetes Month
November 1st marked the beginning of National Diabetes Month, with November 14th being “World Diabetes Day.” As a parent of three children, two of whom have type 1 diabetes, it has long been my mission to raise awareness of the emotional and financial impact this disease has on families.
Throughout my involvement in the diabetes community, I am frequently reminded of how little the general population knows about this disease. Type 1 diabetes often arises during childhood however, it can be developed at any age. It is an autoimmune disease that results in the pancreas not producing enough, or in most cases, any, insulin. Type 1 diabetics must strive to keep their blood glucose levels as close to normal by regularly checking their blood through finger pokes and injecting the correct amount of insulin to cover meals or beverages containing carbohydrates. Only around 5% of people who have diabetes have type 1. Type 2 diabetes is more closely tied to genetics, lifestyle, and diet and is much more prevalent in both adults and children. Taking medication, eating healthy, and exercising regularly helps to control blood pressure and cholesterol levels to help manage type 2 diabetes. While exercise and healthy eating is beneficial to Type 1 diabetics, their disease can only be controlled through daily insulin management.
I am grateful that Regence provides me with the time and resources to not only be involved in this community, but also make a financial impact in the search for a cure. For the last ten years, I’ve been involved with JDRF, the leading global organization that funds type 1 diabetes research, raises awareness, and provides resources that will help those living with, or family members of those impacted by this life-threatening autoimmune disease.
Another organization near and dear to my heart is Camp Stix, a 100% volunteer-run organization that works to help children and teens with diabetes throughout the Northwest. For one week a year, Camp STIX provides a place where kids with Type 1 diabetes are just like everybody else at the camp. Nobody stands out when they need to check their blood sugar, take a shot of insulin or start acting strange when their blood sugar numbers get of whack. Many of our camp counselors, medical staff, and volunteers are type 1 themselves or have other family members that are. That direct connection helps provide valuable coaching, education, support, and camaraderie to kids aged 8 to 18. Because of my leadership role here at Regence BlueShield, I was able to secure two members from our video team, Dondrea and Bryan, whose camp names will forever be “Documentary” and “B-Roll. They were able to come to camp and produce a video to promote this incredible camp. The Camp STIX family is very grateful for the incredible support that Regence has provided to making “camp happen.”
As a parent of two children living with type 1 diabetes, I make it my mission every day to help educate the community about this disease and hope you’ll join me in celebrating this incredibly important month of awareness.