Once again a celebrity has opened their mouth before thinking about what was being said. Yesterday Rikki Lake mistakenly stated that Type 1 diabetes was preventable. She never knew what a hornets’ nest she walked into with those few words. Very quickly after her faux pas on Good Morning America, social networks were abuzz with outrage that people with Type 1 diabetes were once again being “blamed” for their disease.
I admit that I did stand up and state that I thought she was a bit of an idiot. I also stated that sadly, like diabetes, there is no cure for stupid. I do believe that people coming out in the media should have their facts straight before they open their mouth.
The entire diabetes community was not up in arms about this as the furor might have suggested. I had a few friends who, like many of us, are simply tired of stupid. They have decided not to get their undies in a twist over every misstatement made in the media and simply take solace in the fact that their children understand how serious their disease is.
I do appreciate that feeling. I have reached a point where I do pick my battles. I understand that there was a piece on the popular show “The Doctors”, in which diabetes was discussed, Type 1 was mentioned but still the gist of the story could leave people thinking that lifestyle would “cure” Type 1 diabetes. I can’t be that picky. They mentioned the two types, people need to be healthy, okay I am done.
When picking my battles, I do take exception to statements like that made by Miss Lake. I do not expect everyone to be an expert on diabetes, but unfortunately when people are given the opportunity to be in mainstream media AND they are promoting themselves as somewhat of a health expert things change. There are many people who watch them and believe what they say. They do not research the validity of what they say, they assume it to be so because they saw it on a credible show.
Again, the question was so what? Who are these people that believe everything they see on TV and how do they impact my life? They are your teachers, your neighbours, your politicians, and John Q Public who looks for a worthy cause to support each year.
I know that most of these people should be smarter than that. Should be perhaps but how much information does the average person glean from the media and do they tend to just take at face value? I read yesterday that a person refused to donate to the JDRF because they knew that kids were eating too much junk and their parents should be ashamed of themselves for giving this disease to their kids. My two year old never had a piece of “junk” until he was much, much older and at that point it was in moderation and with an external source of insulin to keep him alive.
The misinformation about diabetes (both Type 1 and Type 2) spreads much faster than true facts. The diabetes community knows the difference. We complain and occasionally, as was the case with Rikki Lake, sincere public and private apologies are made. Does that change the big picture? Probably not. We need to educate as strongly with “good” information. Myth spreads like wildfire. Its just like gossip. Truth and the real story is not pretty.
Children drawing needle marks on their body was a powerful message that it did not run very long on public television stations. The fact that people with Type 1 diabetes are still seven times more likely to die at a younger age than their counterparts gets shuffled to the back pages of journals, never sees the front page of a paper, and garners little if any media attention.