Incorrect Messaging about T1—Are We Partly to Blame??—a Two Edged Sword!

swordThe faces of kids are in Washington DC testifying before congressional meetings about diabetes.

The faces of kids appear in ads about diabetes and how important it is to find a cure.

The faces of kids with diabetes are bought to the front of the crowd at galas, walks, rides and other events.

Their faces are smiling, they wave sometimes, and they are shown laughing and being as normal as normal can be.

At the same time we, as a community, scream when people do not ‘get diabetes correctly’ in the media, in our schools, and even when we hear it from our relatives.  So much is ‘gotten wrong’,

So is it our own fault that the messages are mixed?

We strive to get our kids back in the mainstream; on the soccer field, on the hockey rink, on the baseball field, and back out to play.  We hold up a strong front that everything will be okay; as if we are really protecting them from something they probably have already found out from the internet, speaking to others, or hearing ‘it’ in the world around them.

It is a two-edged sword. 

In as much as we scream that no one understands about this disease unless it is lived day-by-day; we also keep it ‘in check’ by keeping it to ourselves by trying to be as normal as possible and ‘protecting’ our kids.

Gina is a mom to a child diagnosed at 15 months and she aptly states;  I have often thought that many in the T1 community try to put such a brave face on to the public that we lose many opportunities to relay the grueling work behind trying to stay healthy for T1s.

I think of ads like those from the Smile Train showing completely disfigured faces of children who desperately need their plates to be surgically corrected.  There is NO QUESTION what is needed.  Perhaps we stare, perhaps we look away, but there is no doubt we know the problem.

Want to talk reality, look at the anti-smoking ads that are popping up all over the country showing how much cancer has impacted patients with about as graphic shock value that you will ever see on television.

I do not have an answer here and it is a question that has perplexed me for years.  I have talked about one of the best commercials ‘never aired’ by the JDRF.  The commercial opened up with a stone engraver pounding away with the voice of Mary Tyler Moore speaking how one day they need to make ‘this’ a reality.  The camera ‘pulls back’ and it is the word DIABETES on a tomb stone and Ms. Moore’s voice over says; “A death to diabetes”.

Well my-oh-my how the parents screamed and stamped their feet about the commercial and it was not released.  “Kids will think they could die.”  Yeah…….well.  So they went back to ads of beautiful faces; and looking as if nothing was/is wrong.  JDRF took a bold step to make a point, we as parents, stopped it.

So it is surely a two-edged sword……but here is the question, and I am not saying we have to get completely graphic about this; if we say that we want the world to do a better job understanding this disease and yet we are not bold enough to tell them the truth about it because we ‘want to protect our children (who probably know much more than we think)’, how does one ever expect to get the message across?  We have to be bolder in our approach, newer in our messaging, and not afraid.

If we do not say it, how will people know; we must find that balance.

Food for thought……..yes? 

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.