So of course, many in the diabetes world are thinking, “could this be my child?” Here’s the thing: with the sad news of Bret’s struggle comes some incredibly good news too: for my daughter’s generation of people growing up with Type 1 diabetes, and for the newer generation, what Bret is going through will most likely never happen. And that, my friends, is very much because of people like Bret and people like you.
Bret, diagnosed before meters and strips, before choices in insulin and certainly before pumps and continuous glucose monitors, had to be raised in a world of almost complete guessing when it came to daily diabetes treatment. Blood sugars were almost never known and certainly never known with the kind-of precision we have today. A1c tests were not available yet, and a person took one shot a day and hoped for the best. (See: Steel Magnolias).
Besides that, the best options for warding off complications then were simple: Pray, do your best and hope for the best.
Today, it is a different world. When Lauren was diagnosed 17 years ago, I told my friends that there was a real – and terrifying – possibility that she would begin to experience damage to her kidney’s in about 15 years time. I was telling the truth: most people with Type One went on to struggle with complications, and kidneys (as Bret is fighting now) were one of the most common.
But now I can tell you a new truth: Lauren most likely will never suffer from kidney damage due to her diabetes. That’s because WE have changed that. I mean literally. We have. Because thanks to research done in part in my home city of Boston and funded by JDRF, we now know that there are existing medications (ACE inhibitors – used for heart patients) that will protect the kidneys when diabetes might have them under siege. Lauren took them in her struggling teen years, and she made it through 100 percent find. If she ever shows signs of needing them again, she’ll take them. Her kidneys should stay strong. And here is the really cool thing about that: You – like Bret and all his advocacy and fundraising—made it happen. And more is being done. JDRF has created a consortium of researchers to take kidney protection even further.
You walk (and donate). You dance – sometimes while Bret performs! (And raise your paddles and bid). You ride, and push just as hard to make what sometimes seem like insane fundraising goals. You dye your hair blue. You read and learn. You listen. You support. You care. You, like Brett, are true ROCK STARS who have changed the future from what Bret’s generation has had to endure to what my daughter’s generation will rock.
But just like Bret jumping back on that stage during all this (and please, Bret: we love you. Take care of YOU. We’ll wait.), we have to keep on keeping on. Because there is much more to be done. Life with diabetes is still a constant and sometimes maddening struggle. Insulin is better, but it still isn’t great. Meters need to be more precise. We need better treatments. We need PREVENTION (I never want to hear about a new diagnosis again). And of course, we need a cure so that diabetes can be a thing of the past.
So While Bret recovers, I cannot imagine a better way to honor all he has done for our world and to boost him toward health than by taking today – during Diabetes Awareness Month – as a time to not just renew but UP our dedication to this goal of a world without Type 1 Diabetes.
I, of course, will be riding for JDRF again , this time with my daughter Lauren riding the 100 miles by my side. To my long-time supporters and donors: I ask you to bear with me as I push toward this goal. I also ask those of you who walk, ride, dance, whatever, to keep at it as well. Do it for Bret and his generation who have to face so much. Do it for my daughter and her generation who still have to work so hard but have so much more to work with. And do it for the next generation. Imagine the first generation with no new diabetes. Now that’s a Rock Star dream.
Here’s to Bret’s recovering. Here’s to all he has done for our world. Here’s to all YOU have done. And here’s to keeping that cure tour bus rolling. #BretIsOurDiabetesRockStar #projectbluenovember #WalkWithD