It’s likely you have someone in your life who has diabetes and you may not even know it. The reason being approximately one in three Canadians have diabetes or prediabetes, but the stigma of the disease is keeping people from seeking the treatment they need. As a way to educate the public on the disease, November has been named Diabetes Awareness Month and November 14 was World Diabetes Day.
An estimated 1.5 million have gone undiagnosed because of the shame associated with diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. Some see it as a preventable disease so they are embarrassed to admit they have a condition they could have otherwise controlled.
Others fear they will be treated unfairly in the workplace. “They feel that employers may not treat them fairly or promote them because they don’t understand the disease,” according to Candy Lipton, senior leader, eastern Canada with Diabetes Canada. As a result, people are hesitant to do blood tests or give themselves insulin injections in public which could produce life-altering health conditions like heart attacks, kidney disease, blindness or amputations.
The reality is that other factors beyond poor lifestyle choices, such as family history and age, play an important role in determining if you have diabetes, says Lipton.
To drive this truth throughout the Canadian community, Diabetes Awareness Month aims to help people “look at the misconceptions people often have about type 2 diabetes, and is a reminder that you may be at risk even if you don’t fit the stereotypical model of someone with type 2 diabetes,” according to a press release from Diabetes Canada.
In addition to this campaign, a free support service called D-Support is being offered in Newfoundland and Labrador as a way to help people living with type 2 diabetes. The service provides over the phone peer-support to all who have or are affected by diabetes.
Carol Ann Smith, regional director for the Canadian Diabetes Association in Newfoundland and Labrador says, “Connecting these individuals with a peer who has gone through many of the same challenges can be really helpful and can provide a good source of support.” Those interested in being matched with a D-Support volunteer peer supporter can contact the D-Support service at 1-800-BANTING (226-8464), extension 7 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diabetes Canada is also encouraging people to find out if they are at risk of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. To do so, they’ve developed a two-minute test called the Canadian Diabetes Risk Assessment Questionnaire (CANRISK) found here. For each test completed, Sun Life will donate $3 to the cause.
To get involved with more activities celebrating Diabetes Awareness Month, visit diabetes.ca.