This week, in the UK, is Diabetes Awareness Week. JDRF are running a campaign around #LanguageMatters and Diabetes UK are running one entitled #TalkAboutDiabetes.
It has been a very long time since I have posted on the blog – the reasons are complicated and wrapped up in all sorts of layers, but this week, for the first time in what feels like forever, I have wanted to get on my keyboard and highlight the importance of these two campaigns.
Pumplette is about to turn 15. Her birthday nearly always falls during Diabetes Awareness Week, and at the start of this week, I was reminded just what an exceptional young woman she has grown into. More on that at the close of this post!
Throughout Pumplette’s (& her siblings’) lives, as a family, we have always had an inherent intuition surrounding the importance of language used around a multitude of subject matters. This also encompasses images they’re exposed to too. We have never given fashion or gossip magazines house room – passing judgement on women’s body shapes and life choices have no place in our world. Raising girls in this SoMe obsessed culture, where every photograph must be subjected to multiple filters, before being published with the #FakeNews statement #NoFilter, I have found it immensely challenging to direct my daughters to online role models whom I have confidence and faith in to reflect the true nature of their realities and not the polished, marketing versions that have detrimental impacts on children & young people’s mental health. Happily, through my involvement with charities, networks and various companies, I have been fortunate enough to meet a plethora of inspirational women & men whom I will regularly reference & hold up as superb examples of what it means to be a thoroughly decent human being. They represent and uphold values that we as a family hold dear. They are fearless, thoughtful, considerate, intelligent people who we are lucky enough to call friends.
With these people, we will also talk freely about multiple aspects of life with diabetes. Never sensationalising, never frightening, always pragmatic, realistic and without horror or rancour. The most inspirational of these mighty humans we’ve had the pleasure to walk this path with are Pumplette’s peers who form the OneTouch Heroes group (formally known as the Animas Heroes).
This group of individuals stands apart from others she has been involved with. There were only two child hereos in this group, Pumplette, and, a now rather spectacular GB Karate champ, who were mentored by the adults within the group. Pumplette and the karate kid have built a kinship that I know will see them continue the example the adult heroes set throughout their lives.
Equally important for Pumplette, knowing and seeing the women in the group, that they continue to kick ass in their lives and lead all charges from the front, has been of particular comfort and reassurance. These women are real. They talk openly and without inhibition about multiple aspects of life with diabetes (whilst always keeping content age appropriate!). These are women we reference when the road is shitty for Pumplette and she feels like she isn’t enough.
And this week, I was reminded that the heroes’ example has left a lifelong mark on her life. You see, Pumplette conducts an enormous amount of advocacy work, of which I know very little about. Often I will ask her whether she would mind adding some teen or other to her Insta followers, as a result of interactions I have been having with concerned parents, but I will then often forget that this is the point where her hard graft begins. This is the point where she starts those conversations, patiently listening and acknowledging just how difficult all this can be, and reassuring that, despite sometimes feeling the contrary, life with diabetes is doable. And more than that, their lives are all amazing and that there are many adventures still to be had, just with the additional diabetes “guest” in tow. She does this without fanfare. Without filters. And without self promotion. She does this because it is the right thing to do. To uplift and lend a hand and an ear. To cheer. To commiserate.
It was this tweet that reminded me I just how much I fail to champion her & the work she puts in, because she does it without seeking reward.
This has been my “Monumentally Proud Mama” moment this week.
Pumplette struggles with diabetes at times. And so do I. But this ensures we don’t forget how lonely people can feel on this path and we both strive to always support and cheer people along their path.
The two themes embraced by this year’s Diabetes Awareness Week, beautifully delivered by Pumplette on a daily basis. This makes me indescribably proud of her tenacity and integrity. She understands the importance of her choice of words and the impact poorly chosen prose may inflict. And she speaks openly and pragmatically about her constant companion of 14 & 1/2 years. Which in turn adds to the power of her advocacy, as she doesn’t seek pity, but highlights one’s ability to live large, whatever life throws into your path.
Put simply, life may have given her lemons, but she knows and understands the importance of putting those into a very large G&T!