What is diabetes advocacy?

The word “advocate” means “to voice.” It’s important to remember that there are everyday opportunities for you—a person with diabetes—to apply your voice.

Consider this: There are 90 million people in the United States with prediabetes and 29 million people with diabetes. Everyone with diabetes deserves to have our stories heard. We are stakeholders in our own healthcare story. Sometimes, we are shut out from conversations about, “the patient,” “the taxpayer,” “the customer,” and “the diabetic.” The word advocacy may turn some people away. It sounds like legalese. Surely advocates are the people you can call on to rush in on your behalf and fight for your rights, right? Yes, that’s one definition. But that’s why you need a voice, too.

When you admit to your friend that their joke about diabetes is rooted in myth and stigma, you have just done diabetes advocacy. When you tell your doctor that you don’t like the side effects of your medication and need to talk about alternatives, you have just advocated for yourself. Did you write a letter to an editor about the diabetes misinformation in his or her piece in the news? That’s advocacy, too. And, yes, when you take it all the way to the Hill or just as far as your local representative’s email inbox, that’s advocacy.

Becoming a diabetes advocate lets you use your voice and tell your point of view. The healthcare climate today is stuck in a political gridlock, to the point that it can feel useless to fight. Yet, you should consider two things: No one can tell your story, and every citizen has the right to be heard by his or her representative. That’s actually the most beautiful thing about a representative democracy. Your congressional representatives care about the votes in their district.

With each new legislative session, we have opportunities to comment on federal and state policies affecting people with diabetes. The path before us is not an easy one, but the road is wide enough for us all to walk together and we need you to walk with us. You have a story. Share it. You have a voice.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.