My father was 48 years old when he passed away from kidney failure, a complication from type 2 diabetes. I saw how weak he was and the struggles he was going through. I gave him his insulin shots, bathed him, and at times, had to take him to the restroom. Diabetes is life-altering, but it is also life-threatening. I know firsthand what diabetes can do to a family and it is my mission to help others and spread awareness. It motivates me, on and off the field, to make a difference. My message to others is to make the most of every day, every opportunity when it comes to your health.
Diabetes can cause severe complications like stroke, blindness, heart and kidney disease, and amputations. My hope this November, which is National Diabetes Month, is that everyone takes the opportunity to raise awareness about this disease that affects close to 420,000 Massachusetts residents. In the U.S. alone, 25.8 million people are living with diabetes – 7 million are unaware they have it and 79 million have prediabetes – and the number is growing each year.
There seems to be a disconnect between how the general public perceives this disease and the reality of its toll on people with diabetes and on our society. If current trends continue, one in three Americans will have diabetes by 2050. That can have an impact on all of us, from parents to children. We must take a team approach and step up our efforts to tackle this disease head on.
I am proud of the work Bianca and I have done through our foundation and also on our work with other champions in the state who are working hard on this front. Efforts to prevent and control type 2 diabetes are particularly promising and our state is taking a leading role in working to confront this chronic disease today and for the future. On November 14, World Diabetes Day, I will be supporting Changing Diabetes Day, a patient advocacy event, at the Massachusetts State House alongside Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes care, and other supporting organizations. The State House will be lit blue on this day as a shining example of diabetes awareness. The goal is to raise awareness of the disease to policy makers and the general public. We need to close the gap—in order to prevent future cases of diabetes, and to ensure that the public makes this health issue a priority.
Many people are still unaware of how serious diabetes is. Most do not consider diabetes to be life threatening. Novo Nordisk has announced a new collaboration with the Diabetes Hands Foundation, a prominent diabetes patient advocacy group, to ask, “Do You Know Diabetes?” The cornerstone of the initiative is an interactive quiz, launched this week in an effort to test knowledge of diabetes facts, risk factors and statistics, and provide valuable education about the disease. While diabetes awareness and prevention are key issues for both organizations year-round – National Diabetes Month and Changing Diabetes Day provides the perfect timing for this initiative. I encourage people to learn more about diabetes by taking the “Do You Know Diabetes” quiz today. Visit www.DoYouKnowDiabetes.com or join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #DiabetesMonth.
Diabetes kills more people in the United States than AIDS and breast cancer combined. It is the leading cause of kidney failure, new blindness in adults, and it is responsible for more than 60 percent of all nontraumatic lower-limb amputations. Make the most of every day, every opportunity. Understand the seriousness of this disease and, for those of you who may be at risk of the disease, take action to reduce your risk.
Vince Wilfork is a paid spokesperson of and has written this editorial in conjunction with Novo Nordisk.
Photo Credit: Samantha Yanofsky, SLY Photography
Source of statistics:
National Diabetes Fact Sheet: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/factsheet11.htm?loc=diabetes-statistics
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