Why rally to strike out stigma?

People living with diabetes often face stigma and discrimination. They’re blamed or shamed for having diabetes, overlooked for opportunities, and burdened with having to respond to assumptions or general ignorance of their reality.

My grade eight teacher said that he thought type 1 diabetes was caused by eating too much sugar

Jessica S, student
Read her story

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March 15 - April 30

We believe people with diabetes need all of our acknowledgement and, even more, our support. Agree? Rally with us.

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Personal stories

Leaving the need for anonymity behind

Kylie Peacock was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was eight. To a girl who had always shied away from attention,  it now seemed everyone was hovering over her. In addition to doctor visits and meetings with nurses and dietitians, the adults in her life took extra care to look out for Kylie.

Uncomfortable with the attention, Kylie became anxious about the burden she thought she placed on others, so much so that by the time she was 16, Kylie craved anonymity. She stopped using her insulin pump, and when she began to make new friends in university, she avoided telling them about her disease.

“It’s not that I didn’t care about my health, I just didn’t want to burden anyone else with it. I didn’t want my diabetes to shape me,” Kylie explained. By not telling anyone about her diabetes, Kylie was spared the judgmental comments and questions that had followed her for years: Should you eat that? Do you have the good or the bad diabetes? Are you sure you’re okay to do that?

But keeping secrets wasn’t easy, neither was managing diabetes. “There were so many new things going on and I had to do so much on my own. I found it hard to manage my diabetes, and still keep on top of my school work and make friends,” Kylie said.

Looking for a better way to cope, Kylie began to see a psychologist. She soon learned not to care what others said about her. She’s now using her insulin pump again and is focused on living a healthy, full life. She’s also rekindled her passion to speak publicly about living with diabetes as a way to help others. She had done this when she was first diagnosed but had stopped.

Challenging others’ perspectives

Life shouldn’t have limits. That’s especially true if you’re 17 years old and ready to ride across Ontario with your friends. 

Even three days in the hospital after his diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, Elliot Gatt was still set on making the trip with his friends. But he got the wake-up call he needed after a short practice ride. “I had a diabetic seizure, and it really sunk in that this wasn’t something I could just fix with a couple of pills,” Elliot explained.

With his family and friends there to support him, Elliot had to begin the process of understanding diabetes, and how he could best manage it. With time, he was able curb the highs and lows and get his blood sugar levels back in check. "It wasn't ever easy, and it’s still a work in progress."

In 2010, Elliot joined Diabetes Canada's Team Diabetes and ran his very first marathon in Reykjavik, Iceland. “When I told people I was training for a marathon, I think it shocked them. People have a certain perspective of what someone with diabetes looks like or what they are able to do,” shared Elliot. “It’s too bad. But, it’s nice that I’m able to show others that even with diabetes, you can be unstoppable.”

His first marathon left him feeling empowered and ready for anything! 

Since then, Elliot has run an ultra-marathon in the Grand Canyon and competed in the Subaru Series Triathlon in Banff, Alberta. In 2017, Elliot, founder of the company Good Glucos, will join Team Bike Beyond with 21 other cyclists with type 1 diabetes to ride from New York to San Francisco. Together they will stop in at diabetes camps along the way to show young people what’s possible when you’re living with diabetes.

“There’s a hard reality living with this disease and we have to make sure we are taking care of our health,” Elliot said. “The next step is to live a full life and to do what's needed to reshape what’s possible.”

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