Nick Jonas Type 1 A-list Diabetic: Making Diabetes a Teachable Moment

Ann Bartlett Health Guide
  • Every day, hundreds of articles are printed, or published online offering advice, insight or breaking news on Nick Jonas' type 1 diabetes. Surfing for diabetes news can lead to a frustrating and hurtful experience!  Recently, a couple of parents saw an article that took the wind out of their sails and have asked me to respond. Instead of responding directly to the paper and reporter, I decided to share my feelings with a wider audience.


    For me, news that inspires is a better personal motivation for taking care of my diabetes management, than the ones that state things like "people afflicted with diabetes have a miserable future, assuming they live long enough..." Diabetes clearly carries a weight of tragedy for some and sometimes we avert our eyes from those difficult stories about diabetes, but how can you make these tragic stories useful?  For those who do not live with diabetes, how can we motivate them to help find a cure, or to be useful in promoting a research that could save lives for those in need of resources for treatment?  I know a woman who moved seven hundred people from tears into strength and determination through her story of tragedy.  Dr. Alberti has raised more than 30 million dollars for JDRF, and with the story I'm about to tell you, you will understand why she has been so successful in motivating everyone to donate!

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    A few years ago, I was invited to a JDRF conference where they honored international board member, Dr. Susan Alberti from Melbourne, Australia. Standing at the podium to receive her award, she talked about her 25 years of work with JDRF.  Her daughter, Danielle, had been diagnosed at age 12 and had suffered many complications along the way.  In 2001, Dr. Alberti and Danielle came to New York on JDRF business and were planning to return to Melbourne, Australia, so that Dr. Alberti could have surgery to donate a kidney to Danielle.


    On their journey home, Danielle started having complications on the flight about 8 hours outside of Melbourne. The situation grew worse as Danielle's body started to shut down and she drifted in and out of consciousness.  With permission to push the planes speed, the crew made preparations for landing and medical personnel to be ready on the tarmac.  However, two hours away from landing the plane, Danielle died in her mother's arms. Dr. Alberti said that for the rest of the flight, she sat with her daughter's head in her lap, looking into her now quiet, peaceful face and made a pledge that she would not give up the fight to rid the world of this disease!  


    Instead of making the disease the target of her anger, Dr. Alberti talked about research that would have changed her daughter's fate - a brilliant move that takes a tragic moment and makes it a teachable moment for anyone reading about diabetes. Dr. Alberti's story still leaves me speechless and tearful, but, more importantly, determined to push for research that would end complications due to diabetes.


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    News is a great resource and the challenge for a reporter is to make it useful.  It is my hope that the press will use these tragic stories to teach a population about diabetes and how they can help change the circumstances for those of us who live with type 1!


Published On: February 02, 2010