Meet Doris. Doris is one of the 200 advocates whom I joined in Washington D.C. last week who shared our stories with members of Congress, urging them to support the American Diabetes Association’s request to increase 2012 federal funding for diabetes research and prevention programs.
It has taken me such a long time to write this post because I’ve started it over and over again, not sure how I can do the experience justice. So instead of debriefing with all of you the legislative issues, the visits, etc., I’ve decided to focus on the relationships I built and the amazing people I met.
So back to Doris. Doris is 74 years old and a real ball of fire. She came to Capitol Hill to honor the legacy of her daughter, Laurie, who died at the age of 29 from complications due to her diabetes. Laurie battled diabetes for 25 years before succumbing to this chronic disease, and her untimely passing inspired her mother to pursue a degree in nursing and become a seasoned veteran to Capitol Hill. Doris was diagnosed with type 1 herself at the age of 57, and it hasn’t hindered her in one bit. Active as ever, she takes it in stride on her quest to stop diabetes. Doris is a true Diabetty, and I was honored to meet her.
At the other end of the age spectrum is sweet Sarah. Sarah is in the middle, and her fabulous mom, Michelle is on the right. Sarah was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a year ago, at the age of 10. Sarah bravely shared her story in our visit with Senator Feinstein’s office, and my heart went out to her when she said shyly,
“When the doctors told me I had diabetes, I thought I was going to die right then. But I didn’t…”
In a conversation later that evening, her mom told me that Sarah has been having so much fun doing all these amazing things in the diabetic community, that she kind of likes having diabetes - which of course embarrassed Sarah to no end. I told Sarah that one day, we’d find a cure, and she wouldn’t have to live with diabetes anymore, but she could keep doing this work and helping people prevent it. After all, 79 million Americans live with pre-diabetes. She smiled. Sarah is a Diabetty, and I’m so impressed by her courage and love for life.
And this is Vida, my partner in crime. Vida and I were paired to meet with members of Congress and we made an awesome team. Vida is a nurse, and she sees first hand the difficulties her patients have managing their diabetes or simply accessing the education and care they need to prevent the development of complications. Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness, kidney disease, and amputations.
These are just a handful of the amazing people I met during my first Call to Congress. I know that it won’t be my last.