Once upon a time, there was a child who had cancer.
No one at his school knew much about this condition.
They had heard of some research out there that suggested that some types of cancer MIGHT be linked to lifestyle: a high-fat, low-fiber diet and a high intake of red meat.
One day, that child with cancer went to a summer sports camp. He was healthy despite his chronic condition.
During a break, someone at the camp started throwing burgers at the child’s head because they learned he had cancer.
He certainly must have had too much red meat so this would make sense as a way to bully him, right?
The bully was going to take it a step further, but someone said, “Stop. That kid has full-on cancer.”
The instigator throwing the burgers replied, “Yeah, he has cancer. He just needs to go on a diet.”
Sounds absurd, right?
It is absurd because no one would dare blame someone with cancer for their lifestyle or food choices.
Now please go back and re-read the story.
Change “burger” to “candy”, and change “cancer” to “diabetes”.
Did it hit differently? It shouldn’t.
But for a lot of people it does.
I used to wonder if the diabetes community was too sensitive about the jokes and that we should just rise above it. And we do. They do.
People with diabetes deal with this ignorance every day.
But when my son told me the diabetes version of the story, I was reminded of why we are not being overly sensitive.
Sadly, my son learned at an early age that people are very ignorant about diabetes and don’t realize that the things they do and say can be absurd, hurtful and harmful. He was reminded of that again last week at camp.
He knows how to handle it, but I’m sure it hurts. Each one of these encounters chips away at a person.
No health condition is funny.
If you have diabetes, you are not the punchline to a joke.
You did not bring this upon yourself, or “just need to diet”. You are seen and heard.
Never be afraid to advocate for yourself and educate the ignorant. You don’t always have to because it gets tiring. And not everyone will listen. And that’s life.
Just know that you are not alone.
If you are new to this diagnosis, there is a whole community out there waiting to embrace you.
If you think that diabetes is funny, then maybe think again.
5 Essentials for Managing Type 1 Diabetes at School
Relieve some of the anxiety you feel whenever your child with Type 1 Diabetes heads to school for the day.
You'll find tips on educating the teacher and nurse, making emergency snack boxes, traveling on the school bus and more.