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When I was 15 years old and hanging out at home one day, I noticed my sister behaving strangely. She was lethargic and looked pale in the face. My parents and I had noticed her uncharacteristically large appetite and unquenchable thirst over the prior month. Yet she was mysteriously losing weight and was sapped of her usual energy. In the spring of 2004 on what was until then an ordinary day around the house – we rushed my sister to the ER. Much to our family’s shock and dismay, we found out that the root cause was type 1 diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects almost 350 million people in the world at present. When the pancreas stops producing insulin, or one’s body proves incapable of utilizing the insulin it creates, this is diagnosed as either type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes. Nearly 90 percent of all diabetics have type 2, which is often associated with obesity and long-term dietary issues. Type 1 can occur at any age, unlike type 2, which can develop overtime due to lifestyle habits. The first of the two is colloquially referred to as insulin-dependent or juvenile-onset diabetes. My sister was 11 years old when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes; her body attacks the very little insulin she naturally produces meaning she must take daily injections of insulin to stabilize her quality of life.

Why World Diabetes Day Matters

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects almost 350 million people in the world at present. When the pancreas stops producing insulin, or one’s body proves incapable of utilizing the insulin it creates, this is diagnosed as either type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes. Nearly 90 percent of all diabetics have type 2, which is often associated with obesity and long-term dietary issues. Type 1 can occur at any age, unlike type 2, which can be developed overtime due to lifestyle habits. The first of the two is colloquially referred to as insulin-dependent or juvenile-onset diabetes. My sister was 11 years old when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes; her body attacks the very insulin she naturally produces meaning she must take daily injections of insulin to stabilize her quality of life.

World Diabetes Day implores all people of this planet to unite for diabetes. Humankind is, after all, most resilient when working toward a common goal. The International Diabetes Federation and World Health Organization ignited the initial flames to start this day and allow its knowledge to spread like wildfire. Global awareness of diabetes along with prevention and support education is the battering ram with which we must push forward. Take a look at the IDF’s animated video below, which speaks to these critical matters.

Moving Forward

Tenacity and optimism: these are traits I see in my own sister, as well as in medical professionals, researchers, activists, advocates, and other diabetics. Please take a moment to consider that person or those persons in your life who must confront their condition on a daily basis. Even if you donate know anyone personally with diabetes personally, the degrees of separation are most certainly small. Have a conversation with a friend about diabetes; post a link or forward an email about World Diabetes Day; make a donation to the International Diabetes Federation or one of Jolkona’s own healthcare-related projects.

The blue circle plastered on the web and featured prominently in the video is diabetes’ universal symbol. Why a deliberate symbol, and what does it symbolize? The vibrant ring forms an identity for people to latch onto. Its blue color represents the United Nations’ distinctly global unity and the beautiful vastness of the sky above. The circle also embodies the strength and connection so vital to ongoing research and campaigns.

Just join in the dialogue - it is impossible to know what spark might catch.

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