Alongside thousands of others, I recently completed the Diabetes UK Swim22 challenge, which involved swimming the equivalent of the English Channel (22 miles) between 22 March and 22 May. I don’t have diabetes and neither do any of my family, but I was elated to complete the challenge with a couple of weeks to spare. I looked in wonder at the Herculean efforts of some of my fellow participants, many of whom do have diabetes. Some swam massive distances (the person at the top of the leader board who has type 2 diabetes swam 22 miles in each of the 12 weeks of the challenge reaching a total of more than 264 miles – wow, just wow!), while others had different challenges along the way such as struggling to fit regular swims into their busy schedules, illness and managing serious dips and peaks in blood glucose levels.
My motivation for taking part in Swim22 was that I feel a close connection with the diabetes community having worked fairly consistently in this field over the last 25 years.
Diabetes has a massive impact not only on people’s lives, but also on health systems as the number of people living with diabetes is growing exponentially. Diabetes UK says that one in 15 of us now lives with diabetes – that’s 4.7 million people in the UK, including one million who are not yet aware that they have it, and more than cancer and dementia combined.
Despite its ubiquity, diabetes sometimes struggles to gain the levels of media coverage and support that some other causes achieve. This may be because there is a stigma associated with type 2 diabetes, possibly because poor lifestyle choices (alongside other factors such as a genetic risk) often play a part in its development. But that’s a topic for an entirely separate blog.
Raising awareness of diabetes to unlock innovation
This week (10-16 June) is Diabetes Week, an annual focus for Diabetes UK’s activities to raise awareness of the disease and funding for research that could unlock a major advance in treatment. This year, Diabetes UK is going back to basics with a campaign to increase the public’s understanding of diabetes, urging us to #SeeDiabetesDifferently in a bid to counteract the stigma.
Here at Aurora, we have many years of experience working in diabetes, including campaigns to launch and provide ongoing support for insulins and medicines for people with type 2 diabetes, as well as innovative technologies such as insulin pumps and glucose monitoring systems.
If you’d like to hear more about our experience, please send me a message at Rachel.Terry@auroracomms.com. We’d love to show you some of our work in this field, including how we’ve involved people with diabetes at the heart of the campaign development process.