November is Diabetes Awareness Month, for ANY person with ANY Type of diabetes.  One thing is for sure, all those types need help for their malfunctioning pancreases.

 While we are all in this to fight diabetes on a larger scale, globally and locally, it is often not made clear to those loved ones and friends of people with diabetes exactly how many ways there are that they can help drive awareness and raise funds and support to help find a cure, or in the meantime, to find the best technology possible to manage this daunting invisible disease.  Living with T1D for 28 years myself, I can say that at this point, even those that have known me for decades, often forget that I constantly carry around the shadow of decision making before I get up, eat, go out, or do anything really, that that one extra step takes up so much energy.  The blood sugar fluctuations of this disease can manifest itself in different ways for different people.  No day is the same, so having a consistent support system is a necessity when dealing with this disease.

Here are five ways that you can do something this month to help bring awareness to this disease and to drive advocacy.

  1. Reach out to your local JDRF or ADA Chapter.  If you have time, donate it!  That is the best thing you can do.  If you don’t have time to physically go to an office, a meeting or an event, try to get involved in JDRF or ADA through social media and other online support groups.

  2. If you have T1D, a great way to offer help is to become a part of the T1D Exchange community.  Also, Trial Net offers T1D risk screening for family members of those with T1D.

  3. Form a Walk team for JDRF or for ADA’s STOP Diabetes walk.  It usually only comes around one time of year, but there is definitely a walk near you! For example, all the JDRF walks just happened this past fall.  This gives you an ENTIRE year to form a team, come up with an awesome name, and fundraise!

  4.  Help Someone with Diabetes by just listening.  Asking them how they feel in a no-judgement zone feels like such a weight lifted off our shoulders.  It’s difficult to complain a lot when you know there are others in the world who are far worse off, but you still need to vent, it’s healthy.  If you are reading this and you are the support person of someone you love with diabetes, help them by offering to watch their children so they can volunteer or attend an important advocacy opportunity at their local State House.

  5. Subscribe to diabetes related social media sites.  There is an enormous amount of information on the web, some opinion based and some very scientific and matter-of-fact.  For recommendations, check JDRF or ADA for suggestions and start there, so that you know they are credible sources.  Also, connect with Cecelia Health’s Diabetes Innovation  group on Linkedin. This group has 7,000+ members from the entire healthcare space.  One thing is for sure, you can learn SO much about what is going on in the world of diabetes.  Things are changing very fast, and in a very good way.  Technology is moving at speed faster than we can raise enough money for.  Our cure is so close I can taste it.  It’s because of awareness and fundraising that I will see a cure in my life.  Something I never believed in 28 years ago.

We can do everything we can to be the best version of our diabetic-selves, but at the end of the day, it’s okay to tell those around you that you are extra tired or extra worn down from a really rough day of highs and lows.  We don’t always show it, but we need to make sure our support systems know it.  This is why I am so excited to have just joined Cecelia Health, whose mission is to improve the lives of people living with diabetes by providing a personalized approach that drives behavior change via technology and close interaction with a CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) and is scalable to reach so many of us who need that extra shoulder to lean on.

A CDE is really the guru of everything diabetes, but not only that, they are some of the most empathetic and compassionate people I know.  Cecelia Health offers a service that is there to not only help patients on their journey of disease adherence and medication compliance, they are sometimes life savers.  Out of the millions and millions of people with diabetes, I can’t imagine that every single one of them has someone to keep them on track and to encourage and empower them to know they CAN take charge of this disease and live a healthy life.  This is what the Cecelia Health program does, by partnering with Health Plans and Pharmaceutical/Device companies.  We go that extra mile in case you can’t get there on your own.

Regina Shirley, Cecelia Health Account Director and Diabetes Expert

Regina Shirley has worked for fortune 500 companies such as Lilly, Medtronic, and Nestle Nutrition as well as in software sales in the life sciences industry.  Through her passion and extensive knowledge, she has been able to promote growth and adoption of new services for her customers.  She has a very successful track record of leveraging relationships with key players in the diabetes field and the diabetes community.

On the personal side she has lived with T1D for over 28 years and has always participated in various JDRF events including: National Speaker’s Bureau, T1D Nation Summit key note address, Fund-A-Cure Gala Speaker, and as an Outreach Committee member of the Baystate Chapter in Boston.  She also contributed to such important educational content as the JDRF Pregnancy Toolkit and the Diabetes Education and Camping Associations’ nutrition guidelines manual.  She guest lecturers annually on the topic of ‘Diabetes, Technology and Nutrition’ at Framingham State College. She has also been a Registered Dietitian for over a decade.  She has been the creator of a widely viewed diabetes blog called ServingUpDiabetes and has guest blogged for some of the top diabetes resources.