I am still processing all I heard and learned at the ADA Community Volunteer Leadership Conference this weekend. I came away with a renewed sense of urgency about finding a cure for diabetes. The word “epidemic” was used several times. In the case of diabetes I am not sure that people entirely understand that it truly is an epidemic. When we think about this concept flu or other diseases that kill people quickly come to mind and they are often more visible. As I walked through the airport yesterday (and not just in New Orleans), I had a greater realization that I could be walking by several people who live with this disease and not even know it. Diabetes is not a visible disease to most of us. There can be tell tale signs if you know what you are looking for or looking at. A pump can just look like a piece of technology to an untrained eye.
One of the things that really struck me was during the research session. Dr. Bob Ratner talked about not having had patients who lost their sight or had amputations for many years. This, of course, hit home with me. The career development and mentorship programs for research are one of the very exciting and promising programs of the ADA. This is where a cure will be discovered.
I also have a greater understanding of the mission and work of the Association. Programs to assist people living with diabetes touch every segment of the population. They are tailored to the demographics of the local area so that they meet the needs of those living there. Hearing about the successes with the Safe at School program was encouraging. Listening to reports on advocacy, building capacity, and carrying out the mission have given me much to think about over the next few months.