Susan B. Sloane, BS, RPh, CDE, has been a registered pharmacist for more than 20 years and a Certified Diabetes Educator for more than 15 years. Her two sons were diagnosed with diabetes, and since then, she has been dedicated to promoting wellness and optimal outcomes as a patient advocate, information expert, educator, and corporate partner.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. The Blue Circle is the global symbol of unity in the fight against diabetes. Pledge your support now!

We all need advocates in life, right? An advocate is someone who supports and stands up for you, someone who protects your rights. This is why people who advocate for patients with diabetes are so important.

What is an advocate?

Whether you are discriminated against at work or have insurance questions because you can’t afford your medications, an advocate can help support you. For example, your local chapter of a diabetes association, such as the American Diabetes Association or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, can give you names of people who will work for you to get you the help you need.

Diabetes advocates, working with associations all across the country, speak out and lobby for patients’ rights in every scenario you may imagine. For the National Step Out Team, which is the walk to raise money for ADA, diabetes advocates spoke about the need to make certain that public policies and funding match up to the seriousness of diabetes.

Advocates protect your right to avoid discrimination in the workplace for people with diabetes. They also help keep our children with diabetes safer with the “Safe at School Campaign.” Many advocates show up in state capitols and in Washington D.C. to meet with Congress and the Senate to ensure healthcare is affordable and available to all of those affected by diabetes.

But advocates don’t only exist on the national level or through formal organizations. Here, on Diabetic Connect, you realize you are not alone in the “fight” to remain healthy and strong with diabetes. United we stand together with the common goal to one day end diabetes in our lifetime! Until that day comes, we have partners across the country and the globe to help each other be stronger and live better. Knowing that there are advocates working for you and your families with diabetes will hopefully make you even more empowered.

How to become an advocate

You, too, can become an advocate. But you might be asking, “How?” First, I would check out websites such as the American Diabetes Association or JDRF and see what types of programs you can join and what would be the best “fit” for you. For example, if you are a healthcare professional, you may want to investigate advocacy groups that work in healthcare reform, etc. Whether you want to work to continue the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), a national program working on research and other projects to help treat and one day cure diabetes, or the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act to improve the health of seniors, you can find a program that may fit your needs and interests.

Advocacy can also be as simple as supporting your friends and family. The great thing about advocacy is the ability to see that you can make a difference. There is a lot of work to be done, there are programs and funding that need to be protected and continued, and new and better programs yet to come.

Diabetes never was or will be a one-size-fits-all disease but our goals are the same: to stay healthy and happy! Together, we can achieve those goals.