It’s the second most common chronic illness in children behind asthma and its incidence rate is rapidly increasing worldwide.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease with no known cause and no current cure. That means there is a growing community of people living with type 1, and their loved ones, who are not giving up on science and hope until there is a cure.
Following an inspiring meeting with junior ambassadors from JDRF, New Jersey legislators Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey, both representing the 11th Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly, proposed a joint resolution to create New Jersey’s first ever type 1 diabetes awareness day — also known as T1D —to be held each November.
Officially titled “A Day in the Life – Type 1 Diabetes Day,” the date is confirmed for November 19, 2018, and subsequently will occur on the Monday before Thanksgiving each year.
“In an increasingly divisive world, we are proud to support a holiday that underscores the importance of inclusion, understanding and compassion,” says Assemblywoman Joann Downey.
“We are asking the residents of New Jersey to walk a mile in the shoes of a neighbor living with type 1 diabetes in order to gain a deeper understanding into the challenges they face on a daily basis. At the same time, we are shining a spotlight on those who live with this disease, and encourage the community to learn more about the individual as a whole, rather than define them by their disease.”
“Diabetes impacts a significant proportion of New Jersey’s population, with approximately 11 percent of our adult population diagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association,” said Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling. “With so many of our residents impacted by this disease, it is important that we do our part to raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes and establish a supportive community upon which New Jerseyans living with diabetes can rely.”
A Teachable Moment
According to Chrisie Scott, president of the JDRF New Jersey Metro & Rockland County Chapter board and the mother of a son living with type 1 diabetes, T1D is a “terrifying,” chronic disease that requires constant vigilance because the pancreas stops working.
“In medicine, we can repair hearts, transplant livers, and even vaccinate against deadly diseases, but the pancreas has been out of reach in terms of fixing, and so type 1 diabetes has no cure today,” Scott says.
Even more taxing, she adds, is the mental energy required to manage the constant carb counting and insulin adjusting that the disease demands, as well as keeping track of supplies and navigating the costs and insurance associated with the technology and insulin.
“I am in awe of my son and all those who courageously live their lives despite type 1. I think it is important that we pause to acknowledge them and their challenges and that we take a moment to highlight for others our focus on the technology and many clinical trials that are getting us closer every day to creating a world without this disease.”
Approximately 40,000 New Jersey residents live with type 1 diabetes, which requires insulin (via syringe or pump) to counteract life-threatening and fluctuating blood glucose levels.
Because of the name of the disease and the common denominator around insulin, people often confuse type 1 with type 2 diabetes. But the distinctions are profound:
- Type 2 is a metabolic disorder while T1D is an autoimmune disease.
- Causes: Whereas people with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, those with type 1 are unable to produce insulin at all. You need insulin to live.
- Risk Factors: Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented and there is no known cause, though risk factors include family history, age, geography and genetics. Lifestyle factors (such as diet and exercise) can contribute to an individual’s likelihood for developing type 2 diabetes.
- Treatment: There is no cure for type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be managed, and in some cases reversed, through diet and exercise.
Spread the Word
On November 19, JDRF will work to elevate “A Day in the Life – Type 1 Diabetes Day” through multiple activities, including using social media to share stories and incorporating the hashtags #NDAM, #T1D, #ImtheType, #JDRF and #TypeNone to amplify the message.
JDRF also encourages its donor community to consider lending its time, talents, or dollars by supporting critical research on Giving Tuesday, an upcoming international day for altruism, held November 27, 2018.
“I am so very proud to be a part of such an important and historic moment, because I know how much this resolution means to every child, every parent and every adult living with type 1 diabetes,” said JDRF New Jersey Metro & Rockland County Executive Director Jessica Backofen. “We are determined to find a cure, and in the meantime, this resolution sheds light on the daily burden associated with this invisible disease.”