Melissa Lee has lived with type 1 diabetes for 25 years (and has the Lilly Journey Award to prove it!). She is a blogger, a diabetes tech writer, and currently serves as interim Executive Director of Diabetes Hands Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) based in Berkeley, California, whose mission is that no one touched by diabetes should have to feel alone.
At Diabetes Hands Foundation, a non-profit whose mission is that no one touched by diabetes should ever feel alone, we have never felt more connected to the members of the greater online community (collectively the “DOC”) than when we are all coming together for a cause.
Grassroots action is exciting because it starts as such a seed. It starts as a single person saying “This isn’t right,” and rallying others to call for a change. In the online patient community, we have been doing this for nearly a decade, coming together for causes like the CGM anti-denial campaign in 2008, the Strip Safely campaign calling for more surveillance around test strip quality and safety in 2012, to causes we champion today – from the successful, like Reegan’s Rule in North Carolina where the online community lifted their voices to help push through proposed legislation that would recommend guidance on screening for type 1 diabetes at child wellness check-ups throughout the first five years of life, to the will-be-successful, like the Medicare CGM Access Act that would provide the benefit of CGM to Medicare beneficiaries and see our seniors with intensely insulin-managed diabetes protected with this life-saving, life-altering technology.
Since 2010, our Diabetes Advocates program has sought to bring more than “clicktivism” to the social media space. We give grassroots advocates platforms to connect on issues that matter to them. Our summer MasterLab advocacy summit, having just celebrated its second year, brings together advocates of all stripes and skill levels to learn from one another about regulatory, media, and legislative opportunities to grow their own seeds into beanstalks they can climb.
One of my favorite stories to come out of this year’s summit was how attendee Christel Aprigliano heard one of our speakers say that we should each be going back to our home states to find out what progress was being made on state Diabetes Action Plans, initiatives that would seek to coordinate and focus state resources, health departments, and budgets on effective diabetes strategies. She did just that and, by the time she was done with her inquiry, applied and was appointed to the Diabetes Advisory Council for the State of Florida by Governor Rick Scott. Christel climbed the beanstalk and is poised to be a giant-slayer.
Whatever the seed that is germinating within you, dare to imagine that you could grow it into something greater. The soil is rich, but there is much tending to do. Join us online and become a more effective diabetes advocate.