What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet (Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet). What’s in a name? That which we call diabetes, by any other name would still be horrible. The goal of T1International, despite being an organization predominantly advocating for patients with type 1 diabetes and having “T1” in its name, is to help all people with diabetes gain access to the medication and supplies they need to survive. When it comes down to it, does it really matter which type of diabetes one lives with? Are those without type 1 diabetes less worthy of help?
I argue that, no, it does not matter what type of diabetes one lives with - all are worthy of life. Since what feels like the beginning of time, there has been a staunch argument of “us vs. them” when it comes to different types of diabetes. Many of the quarrels center around common misconceptions regarding causes and treatments of type 2 (and type 2 presenting) diabetes.
To be simple: Everyone on Earth needs insulin to survive. Some need complete insulin supplementation and others need partial supplementation. Without insulin to help break down glucose, a person will die - either very quickly or very slowly, depending on how long it takes to accumulate enough glucose to turn the blood into maple syrup. Regardless of the speed of death, death is imminent.
So if we all die without insulin, why do we argue the value of some lives over others? People with diabetes - regardless of type, or cause, or diet, or lifestyle - deserve access to affordable care and medication. #insulin4all is not just about those with type 1 - it’s about all those who struggle to live. It encompasses the need for exogenous insulin - in any amount, for any reason.
I emphasize this because we need to remove blame, whether intentional or unintentional, from the #insulin4all argument. We have to remove our microaggressions when discussing the price of insulin. We have to change our language to embrace compassion for everyone. No one with diabetes is to blame for their disease. Diabetes is not caused by too much sugar. It is not caused by living in a fat body. It is not caused by being a couch potato. It is caused by a defect in insulin production of varying degrees. An individual with type 2 diabetes should not be excluded from the access and affordability conversation because they are viewed to be more at fault than those living with type 1 diabetes. The fight for survival is felt among everyone within the community. Death related to lack of access or rationing does not sting any less because a person has a different number in front of their diabetes.
We cannot arbitrarily devalue a life because public perception points the finger of blame at an individual. I stress the importance of “all” in #insulin4all. If you believe only those with certain types of diabetes should fight or be fought for, then you believe in #insulin4some, not #insulin4all. If this is you, I urge you to rethink your approach and choices. T1International and the fight for #insulin4all is inclusive, not exclusive. It applies to everyone.
Now is the time to make the choice between embracing the need for systemic change to help everyone access their medication and supplies or to sit silently with the status quo. Doing so would mean that a whole group of people are left out in the cold with the pointed fingers of shame and blame helping push them further into the ground.