Today is October 31 – also known has Halloween. Today children all across North America will go door to door and collect candy treats. This takes on a whole new dynamic when you are a type one or juvenile diabeticToday close to 50 children from across Canada will be taking part in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s (JDRF’s) third Kids for a Cure Lobby Day taking place on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario. I watched a young lady (school aged) speak on CBC Morning on Newsworld about their scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Harper. She spoke well about the need for a cure. There is evidence to suggest that science is getting closer but more money and more research is needed. Their goal is to convince government that a cure can be found and that they should direct $25 million dollars toward research for that cure. Sound like a lot of money? To put that number in perspective – estimates peg the one year financial cost of war in Afghanistan to the Canadian taxpayer to be about 2 billion dollars. That means that these kids are seeking just over 1% of the one year (financial) cost of the present Afghan conflict to Canada.
I have sister who has been insulin dependent as a type 1 diabetic for 46 years. Many people I am sure think that diabetes is already cured since people like Elaine continue with their lives, work and play, marry and have kids, etc. They are like the rest of us (They just have to take a needle!) Nothing could be further from reality. Diabetes is a life altering disease for which there is no present cure. It means much more than just a needle. The treatment is a commitment to a lifetime of needles or nowadays a pump. It means checking sugar levels 8-20 times a day depending on the severity of the condition. It means being conscious of the possibilities of being hypoglycaemic (low sugar) which often results in episodes of confusion and possibly to a coma. It means a lot of things to those who live with the disease and none of them are exciting. The long term effects include diabetic retinitis, kidney failure and cardiovascular degeneration, not to mention problems with circulation that often lead to problems like gangrene. I have prayed daily for Elaine since I was a very young man. She is a special gift to us all and we do not at all dwell on her disease. But today as I listened to that young woman speak of her young life with diabetes I was reminded of just what Elaine is up against. We are far apart enough in age that I was not around to see her struggle as a young person to figure out why she could not live like the rest. But I have watched her with pride live her life with great courage and resolve. She has had her challenges but she has always overcome them with great resolve. She is a strong influence on me. I love my sister and I pray that there will one day be a cure so that she and all of those who live with this disease can be set free from insulin, free from pumps, free from needles, finger pricks, hypos, and all the rest of it.
Tomorrow is the first day of November which is the first day of national Diabetes month. If the local chapter of the diabetes foundation call on you for assistance – help as you can. contact your MP and ask her/him to implore government to step up to the plate with assistance as well. Visit the JDRF webpage and read about other ways that you can help to find a cure. There is strong research for a cure – we need money to get there more quickly so that more lives can be saved.