Diabetes Canada is calling for the public to rally together and help end the stigma surrounding diabetes and those who live with the disease.
Types 1 and 2 diabetes takes a medical toll on the individual, but what is often overlooked is the emotional and mental toll those with the disease can suffer through.
Diabetes Canada offers a number of avenues for people to get involved, as part of its End Diabetes movement.
“First and foremost is go to enddiabetes.ca and sign up as an advocate,” said Scott McRae, regional director for Alberta and Northwest Territories at Diabetes Canada.
Advocates are encouraged to lobby governments and seek financial supports to help end diabetes. For those who do not want to become advocates McRae says fundraising efforts are key.
“Most importantly it’s individually changing the lives of those living with diabetes,” said McRae.
Diabetes Canada and the End Diabetes movement recently released a song and music video containing the real words, struggles and stigmas surrounding individuals living with diabetes.
The video and a behind the scenes component can both be found on the End Diabetes homepage.
“End Diabetes is our rallying cry to stop the health impacts of diabetes as well as its shame, blame and misinformation. Canadians living with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes tell us they often feel scared, angry, frustrated or overwhelmed. We need to create greater awareness about the realities of living with diabetes,” said Diabetes Canada president and CEO Rick Blickstead, in a press release.
McRae says individuals facing diabetes are sometimes blamed for bringing the misunderstood disease on themselves.
“Type 1 is the rare form of diabetes,” said McRae. “Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder. The body starts attacking itself.”
There is no known cause of Type 1 diabetes and those diagnosed with the disease will be insulin dependent for life, says McRae. Approximately 31,000 Albertans live with Type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes has two factors. “First is the lifestyle factor. There’s also some uncontrollable factors,” said McRae.
Uncontrollable factors of Type 2 diabetes include age, genetics and ethnicity.
“There’s a lot of blame,” said McRae. “Because of that stigma people sometimes won’t admit to themselves they have diabetes if they see the signs.”
McRae says others monitoring their disease may be too embarrassed to go public, compromising the quality of the regimen.
McRae says almost 10 per cent of Albertans have diabetes. “We’re facing an epidemic.”
From March 15 to April 30 Diabetes Canada is holding the Rally to Strike Out Stigma. Individuals and workplaces across the county can rally together to help end stigma and end diabetes.
McRae says applications will begin to come in around March 15 and most companies involved will hold their rally celebrations close to the end of April.
Further information about the Rally to Strike Out Stigma can be found at www.enddiabetes.ca/take-action.
“We know the daily challenges of managing diabetes can have a negative effect on the mental health of those living with the disease,” said Diabetes Canada’s chief science officer Dr. Jan Hux, in a press release. “Fear of stigma and discrimination is a reality for people living with diabetes and many don’t want to admit they have the disease. People suffer in silence and this new campaign invites Canadians to think about diabetes in ways they never have before.”