As I mentioned, I’m in Fire Island today with my friends, but I wanted to stop in with a quick work update!
As you know, I work for the American Diabetes Association on their Strategic Communications/PR team, and recently I’ve been spending a lot of time working on a joint campaign with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Medical Association (AMA), and the Ad Council to help raise awareness of prediabetes.
What is prediabetes, you ask? It’s when someone is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes but they’re not quite there yet. So maybe they are overweight, don’t exercise, and have a family history of diabetes. That will put you a risk! Sadly, there are 84 million Americans at risk for type 2 diabetes, which comes out to about 1 in 3. Wow!
Anyway, I just wanted to pop in to share some fun PSA videos I helped to create as part of the campaign. They’re really fun and feature hedgehogs, baby goats, and puppies, while also helping people learn if they’re at risk!
The videos are below – feel free to share them! For more information about the campaign, you can visit DoIHavePrediabetes.org. Enjoy!
Question of the day: Do you know someone who might be at risk for type 2 diabetes? If so, please send them these videos!
Hi friends! As I mentioned last week, I’m working on some really cool projects for work that I wanted to tell you about. I totally understand if diabetes is not your thing and you’re not interested in this topic, but I’m learning a lot about this disease through my new job and most of it is relevant to what I talk about on the blog anyway, so I figured I might as well share. I hope you find it as interesting as I do!
Today’s post is more about diabetes in general–a diabetes 101 if you will–but future posts will focus on more “fun” topics like National Healthy Lunch Day and Get Fit, Don’t Sit Day, so stay tuned for those as well.
Ok. So, I will start by telling you that November is American Diabetes Month, which, for us, is a time to raise awareness about this often overlooked disease. Did you know that one in 11 Americans has diabetes, and a quarter of these people are undiagnosed? If left untreated, diabetes can cause nerve damage that can lead to amputation, as well as blindness and a whole host of other symptoms, including death. It’s definitely not something you want to ignore. (By the way, the main symptoms for diabetes are perpetual thirst and rapid weight loss, but of course there are numerous other symptoms and only a blood test from a health care provider can confirm a diagnosis.)
The theme for this year’s American Diabetes Month is “This Is Diabetes,” which is an opportunity for anyone affected by the disease to share their story and bring attention what life with diabetes is really like.
Diabetes is a disease where your body no longer produces or uses insulin properly. Your body needs insulin to break down sugar from food, so it can leave the blood stream and enter your cells. There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.
Before I started working at the American Diabetes Association, I thought I knew a fair amount type 2 diabetes. Formerly called adult-onset diabetes because it mostly affects adults, this is the type of diabetes that is often preventable and even treatable through healthy eating and exercise. It occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood for your pancreas to keep up. Of course there are plenty of factors that can lead to type 2 diabetes–for example race plays a pretty big role, as minorities are disproportionately affected–but for the most part if you’re diagnosed with what’s called prediabetes, you can reverse it by adopting a healthier lifestyle. These days a lot more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, hence the name change. Obesity, age, sedentary lifestyle and race are all risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
Then there is type 1 diabetes, which used to be called juvenile diabetes because it usually develops in children and young adults, though it lasts throughout the lifespan. Truthfully, I knew nothing about this part of the disease before I started working for the American Diabetes Association, but I now know that it happens when your autoimmune system destroys the cells that produce insulin, and you stop making the hormone altogether (whereas with type 2, insulin production slows and may eventually stop, but doesn’t happen all at once). Scientists still aren’t sure what exactly causes type 1 diabetes, but they think genetics and some illnesses could play a role. Five percent of Americans with diabetes have type 1, which is more than one million Americans.
Type 2 diabetes can be managed with oral medications for a while, but eventually many people wind up needing insulin shots or an insulin pump. People with type 1 diabetes need insulin shots or pumps no matter what. The hope is that technological and scientific advancements could help with this in the future, but that’s where we stand today.
Basically diabetes is a really awful disease that people just don’t talk about much, even though it’s so incredibly prevalent in our society. Managing it is really difficult, and people who have diabetes need to constantly count their carbs, pay attention to what their eating, include lots of physical activity, and monitor their blood glucose. Not to mention the shots and the pumps, which go into your skin with a needle. It’s a 24/7, 365 disease. There is no cure.
I think my main point of this post is to encourage you to look around and realize that for every 11 people you encounter, at least one of them most likely has diabetes. (Side note: If you know someone you think might be at risk for prediabetes or type 2, there’s a quick and easy risk test they can take here.)
The point of the This Is Diabetes campaign is to showcase what it’s like to live with diabetes, and this post is my attempt to do that. A bunch of my coworkers have type 1 diabetes, and there are people in my family who are at risk for type 2 diabetes if they don’t already have prediabetes, so this is a cause that’s important to me. Especially since prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are mostly preventable with diet and exercise, I just think it’s a message that needs to be shared.
As part of the campaign, I helped our team develop a bunch of really inspiring videos about real people with diabetes (both types). You can watch a few of them below.
Jessica was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was in college. She was always told she wouldn’t be able to have a child, but luckily, she didn’t listen.
Robin and her niece, Zamaiah, manage their type 2 diabetes as a family.
Guadalupe’s mom used to take care of him and his 10 brothers and sisters. Now he takes care of her and helps her manage her type 2 diabetes.
If this is something that you’re interested in and you’d like to hear more about the campaign, you can share your own diabetes story or find additional resources here.
Alright, I hope I didn’t bore you all to death. If you’re still reading, thanks for humoring me! I hope the rest of my work-related posts will be a little more on the “fun” side, but I thought this one was an important one to start off with.
Question of the day: Do you know anyone with diabetes? What is his/her story?
*Disclaimer: I am an employee of the American Diabetes Association; however, I am not being compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. I am not a scientist or a health care provider. Talk to your doctor if you think you may have diabetes.*
As you know, I started a new job a little more than two weeks ago. I am so excited by everything I’m working on, and although I’ve been dying to tell you more about it, I wanted to wait to get permission from my manager first so I was clear on what I could share. I talked to her earlier this week and got her blessing to post away, so now’s my chance to tell you more about it!
First, some background. I get questions from you guys all the time about how I got a job communicating about health and wellness. Here’s my attempt at making a long story short.
I always knew I wanted to work in Public Relations (my mom has her own PR firm and I worked for her when I was in high school), so when I went to college, I immediately set about getting my degree in Communications with a focus on PR. I then worked at Ketchum—a large, well-known international PR agency—where I was placed on the social marketing team. Social marketing sounds like social media, but it’s actually about making a change in societal behavior. While there, I worked on mostly government accounts and fell in love with some of the work I was doing with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I also started my blog during this time (2012) so the whole health and wellness thing really came together for me. When I saw a job for a Communications Manager with a smaller nonprofit dedicated to treating and preventing obesity, I knew it was a perfect next step for me! I worked there for a few years where I mostly worked with scientists and doctors. While it was interesting to hear the latest science and talk to doctors about obesity, I wanted to feel like I had a job that was directly influencing the people who are suffering with these problems.
That’s where my new job comes in. I’m now working with the American Diabetes Association on their Strategic Communications/PR team, where I can (finally) communicate directly with patients about managing their health. Yayy!!
So, for those of you who ask me “How do I get a job like that,” my answer is that I basically used my background in PR and my passion for health to lead me where I wanted to go. There’s no easy “quick-fix” solution I can recommend to those looking to break into this field, except to try to take advantage of the skills that you already have and see how you can apply them.
ANYWAY. Enough about that. Let’s talk about the new gig!
In a word, it is awesome. I am writing so much (which, for me, is a great thing!) and everything I’m writing is so incredibly interesting. I’m working on a campaign for “National Healthy Lunch Day” (it’s Nov. 15!) and will be working on other campaigns like “Get Fit, Don’t Sit Day” in early 2017. I get to write about how to incorporate more movement into your day and review infographics that explain how to build a better salad. Plus, I get to hear stories from real, live people with diabetes who struggle with this horrible disease every day. Seriously?! I get paid for this? Every day I’ve been thinking to myself how fun my new job is, and there’s nothing better than that. J
So, how will this affect the blog? While at my old job, I didn’t really post too many of the specifics of my day-to-day work. A lot of it just wasn’t that relevant, and I didn’t want to bore you guys with overly scientific information. With this new job, however, I have a feeling I’ll want to share a lot more of what I’m doing because I think it’s a) interesting and b) important. Of course I’ll always make it very apparent when I’m writing about something for work and when I’m writing something just for myself (which will still be most of the time). Plus, all opinions are (always) my own!
Question of the day: How much do you know about diabetes? How much do you want to know?
P.S. I know this post didn’t have any pictures in it, so here’s one of Jack in a pumpkin “costume” to make you smile. 🙂