As we take time today to observe the worldwide campaign for diabetes awareness, we find a reminder of how important this effort is from the quiet Wisconsin town of Weston. Earlier this week in Weston, a judge listened to arguments involving the homicide charges filed against parents who tragically lost their 11-year-old daughter because they failed to recognize the warning signs of diabetes.
If it can happen in Wisconsin, you can imagine how urgently needed this campaign is around the world.
Each of us has a responsibility to help teach people about this disease we live with every day. We need to speak up when we have the chance. Let’s commit to raising awareness about diabetes in our own circles of influence. Who knows how much good we could accomplish together. We may save a life. We may save many lives.
I was reading up about World Diabetes Day and learned that November 14 was chosen because it is the birthday of Sir Frederick G. Banting. Dr. Banting didn’t start out in life planning to be a doctor. In fact, when he entered the University of Toronto, he planned to be a preacher.
But fortunately for diabetics around the world, he changed his mind and began studying medicine. In 1921 at the age of 30, Dr. Banting began serious research into the hormone called insulin. With the help of his research assistant, Charles Best, he was able to isolate insulin and demonstrate how it could be used to reduce blood sugars in diabetic patients. His progress was so rapid that within a matter of months insulin was put into mass production.
In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine. He nearly declined the prize because his research assistant, Charles Best, was not included. Instead, he accepted the award and shared his portion of the prize with Best. Then in 1941 at 49 years old, Dr. Banting was killed in a tragic airplane accident.
I was thinking about Dr. Banting’s decision to pursue medicine. I’m sure he had no idea the number of lives he would influence for good when he made that decision. Similarly, we don’t know the kind of good we might do when we choose to get involved in diabetes awareness. But if we all do our part, there’s no telling what difference we might make.
And who knows, perhaps our efforts will influence the next “Dr. Banting,” the one who will discover the breakthrough that will cure diabetes forever.
It’s World Diabetes Day. Wear blue and speak up.
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