Imagine this: The phone rings and you see a loved one’s name flash across the screen. When you pick up, you’re greeted with, “Could you call me in the morning and make sure I’m still alive?”
It may sound scary, but these are the exact words one mother heard from her daughter who has type 1 diabetes after suffering an alarming drop in blood sugar levels. And with millions of others out there suffering from diabetes, any parent, friend, or family member has the potential to hear the same words coming from a loved one.
Diabetes is a disease that affects the pancreas, rendering it incapable of creating or effectively using the body’s own insulin — the hormone that regulates the body’s sugar levels. Without it, serious complications to the eyes, kidneys, limbs, heart, brain, and stomach can occur.
Currently, there are more than 460 million adults around the world coping with diabetes — a number that’s expected to rise to nearly 580 million by 2030 — and an estimated 232 million adults who have diabetes and don’t even know it. When not properly managed with insulin or other treatment approaches — or if the disease goes undiagnosed or untreated — it can lead to serious, even fatal results. In 2019 alone, diabetes was responsible for 4.2 million deaths.
Some of the biggest challenges we face as a community are raising awareness about the disease and the importance of early detection and access to care. Why? Because the more people are aware of the implications of having diabetes and the challenges faced by those living with it, the more people like you will be inspired to act.
Living With Diabetes Isn’t Easy
When a person is diagnosed with diabetes, their life immediately becomes more challenging. Everything from diet and exercise to planning the day around injection times and the body’s needs become top priorities, because forgetting about any of these things could mean the difference between life and death. But what does it mean to really live with the challenges of diabetes? Here are just a few of the things people with diabetes have to think about on a daily basis:
- The Education Gap. While much is known about diabetes, not everyone in the U.S. is aware of just how dangerous it can be. That means that even if you’re living with the disease and know how to manage it, the people around you may not. If something happens and you need help, you may not be able to turn to someone nearby. For those undiagnosed or newly diagnosed Americans, not knowing how to react if sugar levels take a plunge could be deadly.
- Sugar Level/Injection Management. Living with diabetes is a full-time job. Those with diabetes need to constantly monitor their sugar levels and everything that affects them, including carbs, exercise frequency, stress levels, and more — because all of those can impact blood sugar spikes and the need for insulin or other medication. This constant need to track, evaluate and inject insulin can have a profound effect on a person’s productivity, not to mention mental health.
- Diet & Nutrition. Living with diabetes means having a complicated relationship with food because almost everything you eat has an effect on your blood sugar levels. In many cases, this means working closely with a dietitian or diabetes counselor to ensure the right things in the right amounts are entering the body. However, not all people with diabetes have access to those resources, and not all have the know-how or ability to keep such a close watch on their nutrition.
- The Rising Cost of Insulin. Insulin — a lifesaving drug to those with diabetes — is expensive, and it’s only getting more expensive, especially in the U.S. An estimated $327 billion is spent by those diagnosed with diabetes every year in America. These out-of-pocket costs on insulin threaten to price many who are uninsured or underinsured out of the ability to effectively manage their condition and, as a result, put them at risk.
While living with diabetes is possible, it’s a lifestyle that’s focused on managing the challenges, not treating the disease itself. Why? Because at this time there’s no cure for type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
That’s where the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation (DRIF) comes in.
The Search for a Cure – How DRIF is Working Hard to Close Its Doors for Good
There are many organizations dedicated to helping people with diabetes manage their symptoms and contributing to the search for a cure, but DRIF is the only organization that is singularly focused on finding a biological cure for diabetes. As one of the largest and most comprehensive research centers dedicated to curing diabetes, the Diabetes Research Institute is working aggressively to achieve its vision — a world without diabetes — and DRIF exists to fund that mission.
For more than 50 years, Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) scientists have been on the front lines researching innovative ways to cure diabetes. From developing the gold standard for treating pregnant women with diabetes to igniting global interest in islet transplantation and more, the DRI’s clinical trials and groundbreaking research have been a driving force in the search for a cure.
Today, with COVID-19 disproportionately affecting the diabetes community, DRI’s scientists continue to make progress, publishing research papers, monitoring ongoing experiments that will help uncover a cure, and creating programs like the Young Investigator Awards Fund, which locates and provides funding to the brightest young researchers in the field to help them pursue their work. Young Investigator Awardees will work directly with the DRI Faculty as Co Primary Investigators on a particular project or initiative that drives the DRI’s mission forward. This fund underscores DRIF’s efforts to go beyond its four walls and fund the best science, no matter where it comes from.
DRIF is tirelessly working toward a day when no one will have to hear, “Could you call me in the morning and make sure I’m still alive?” ever again. A day when it can close its doors knowing it has achieved its mission. But its researchers and scientists need your help. Click the link below and become a DRIF Insider to receive updates and learn new ways to support the search for a cure. Together, we will cure diabetes!