November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Nine million Canadians are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes and this chronic illness is on the verge of being called an epidemic. In Calgary, we rock Diabetes Awareness Month with stars, schools, and celebrations.
Take some time to understand the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, have some empathy for the people living with either, celebrate the great Canadian achievements in the treatment of diabetes, and check your risk factors.
No moustaches, no ribbons, just a big old dose of “wow, I didn’t know that, now I do” is all we ask.
So here you go, here’s some awareness:
We get diabetes when our body doesn’t produce insulin or doesn’t react well to the insulin it produces. Insulin is needed to regulate the glucose in our body. When Canadian scientist Sir Frederick Banting and his assistant, Charles Best, discovered insulin in 1921, it was such an important discovery it was put into mass distribution in a matter of months almost immediately extending the lives of millions of people worldwide.
Numerous schools have been named for the duo across Canada, including one in SE Calgary.
We don’t usually care about a disease until we know someone affected by it. If you’ve been to a Calgary Flames game in the past two years, you’ve heard George Canyon sing O Canada before puck drop. When Canyon was 14, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and is a spokesperson for JDRF.
Are you a fan of hockey? Star Wars? Forrest Gump? The Jonas Brothers? There’s diabetes linked to all of those too. Dig deeper into the stories of Max Domi, Nick Jonas, Tom Hanks, or George Lucas and you’ll see diabetes is all around us.
I run marathons around the world raising funds and awareness for Canadians living with diabetes as part of Team Diabetes. The first person to ever join Team Diabetes is Michelle Simonin, from Calgary. The man in the front on the right of the picture above is Harry Flint of Calgary, who has been awarded the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award for his work with Team D.
If you’re interested in taking control of your own health and supporting the health of others, join me and dozens of other Calgarians at TeamDiabetes.ca.
The big blue circle out near the airport is meant as a public art project to celebrate Traveling Light, or something. I’ve co-opted it as a symbol of the fight against diabetes. The symbol of the International Diabetes Federation is a blue circle. It represents the blue sky, the United Nations, and health. So next time you’re heading down the Deerfoot and see that big blue circle, think of the nine million Canadians living with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
November 14 is Sir Frederick Banting’s birthday and a day celebrated around the world as World Diabetes Day. On this day, people are encouraged to wear blue and take pause for those living with diabetes. National monuments are bathed in blue light in celebration of “shining a light on diabetes.” Our own Langevin Bridge and Calgary Tower are in on the celebrations each year.
There’s an event in Calgary on World Diabetes Day called Make Time To Move. We’ll be at the Genesis Centre from 2 to 6 p.m. getting active and supporting diabetics in our community – we’d love to see you there.
We would love if you would share this with civic pride to help spread awareness during this month. So many people treat diabetes like it’s a punchline from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s not. It’s an emotional chronic illness that is becoming an epidemic in Canada. Nine million of us live with diabetes or pre-diabetes and it is costing our health care system billions. Literally.
So thanks for this, now take two minutes and check your risk factors to see if you’ve got diabetes lurking in your own life. And then pass it on.