What is the point of "building awareness," particularly when it comes to a disease? In the case of breast cancer, it has been huge. Before Happy Rockefeller and Betty Ford went public with their battle against it, cancer was only mentioned in hushed tones, and breast cancer didn't exist in daily conversation. America followed their progress and learned about how difficult battling it can be. We learned how it doesn't just attack the patient physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. As a result, funding for research has grown, treatments have improved and more women live both longer and better.
In the world of Diabetes, the trajectory has been a bit different. While there are many famous people with Type 1 Diabetes, none of their battles have really captured national attention. Instead, building awareness of the disease has been a more difficult challenge than it was for breast cancer or HIV/AIDS. The awareness that the public has about the disease usually comes from knowing somebody who has it. In recent years, the growth of social media has made it easier for regular folks to mount a cyber soapbox and reach more people than they could have done in times past. While that is all well and good, I can't help but question what is the objective of that effort?
Ideally, the goal of "building awareness" should ultimately be to cure the disease - something that has eluded man since Hippocrates described it. In the interim, a parallel track has been to develop better ways to manage it so that people with diabetes (PWD) can enjoy a better life until a cure is found. That has created some friction among some PWD.
There is a school of thought that all research effort should be concentrated on the cure, and that any expenditure of time, effort and funding delays the day a cure will become reality. While there is some merit to that philosophy, there is an important contra-argument. Let's work on what will make life for us closer to normal until there is a cure. Add to the complexity are PWD like me: I've amassed enough complications of such severity that a cure probably won't help me as much as it would a person without those issues. In other words, even if my diabetes magically disappeared, I'd still have to deal with eye problems, kidney damage, nerve pain, etc.
It is worth noting how much various 'Diabetes Charities' spend on awareness, public outreach, fundraising, and the like. To get a better picture of how much your donation is actually devoted to a cure, take a look at The Juvenile Diabetes Cure Alliance. They serve as a watchdog to ensure that the 'Diabetes Charities' that claim to be working on a cure are doing that, and they keep an eye on how much of the donations they receive go to other activities.
As for me, the Blue Circle is nice, but I admire efficiency, particularly when it comes to how a charity uses donations in achieving their goal. I invite you to think carefully about the difference between talking and doing and whether 'awareness' is advancing us toward a cure.