My family and I just finished participating in local JDRF Walk To Cure Diabetes. As I walked, wearing our team's orange shirt that said: "Insulin Is Not A Cure," I realized yet again that I am not an unusual participating parent: I want nothing more than a cure for my Type 1 son.
Type 1 Diabetes is one of the neediest of all chronic conditions in terms of attention, commandeering our immediate attention day in and day out. So much so that we look it all aspects of the disease from a two-foot level all of the time.
When the time to Walk To Cure Diabetes circled back again this year, I admit, I felt a little down, a little out, a little overwhelmed. Hadn't we (my husband, three boys and me) just walked twelve months ago? Wasn't that effort added in to all of the other contributions enough to speed research along to find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes?
Apparently not. Because there I found myself again, preparing for the Walk.
It wasn't until fellow HealthCentral blogger Ann Bartlett forwarded on to me an interview with Lee Ducat, one of the key founders of the JDRF, that I stopped looking at our progress with finding a cure for juvenile diabetes up close and personal. Instead, I backed up, way, way up, and observed instead our progress in finding advances in treating, managing and someday curing juvenile diabetes from a twenty thousand foot level. Then I truly began to appreciate just how far we've come.
Where Have We Been?
Before 1922, no one lived long after displaying signs of Type 1 diabetes. When Frederick Banting and his assistant Charles Best discovered insulin, everyone assumed that diabetes had been cured.
No doubt, the discovery of insulin is one of the greatest medical discoveries of the twentieth century. Insulin makes life with diabetes possible - furthermore, insulin offers the promise of a fairly normal life. However, it is not a cure.
Forward time about half a century to the late 1960s. Lee Ducat's nine-year-old son just has been handed the devastating diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes. After hiding her tear-swollen eyes behind dark glasses for nearly a year, the Philadelphian decided to step up and figure out a way to find monies to fund research for a cure for diabetes. In May 1970, Ducat held a cocktail party in her Penn Valley home outside of Phildalephia with parents of other area Type 1 children attending. This get-together served as the first meeting of the JDRF (which celebrated its 40th birthday last month). At that point in time, the amount of money spent on diabetes research was about $1 million (which included the monies spent by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)).
In the first year of fund raising, the JDRF collected $10,000 in donations. Impressive considering that nearly everyone thought that insulin was a cure for diabetes.
Diabetes management was much different in the ‘60s and early ‘70s. These were the days before people could test their blood. All testing was done on the urine and indicated readings that were often hours old, therefore people were making corrections off of old information. Too this information didn't test for low blood sugars, which can cause immediate danger.