Whether you physically sat in the room at the Diabetes Advocates Forum or joined us there in spirit, I tell you now. It ends with us.
We will be the ones to end the feelings of frustration with diabetes, the barriers to affordable access, the misconceptions of this disease, and in the future, the disease itself. However long it takes, whatever needs to be done, it ends with us.
After two days of intense, emotionally-charged meetings between key members of the Medtronic Diabetes team and invited diabetes advocates, this phrase is what remains in my head.
It ends with us.
Bold statement, you say. Brash statement, you say.
About time, I say.
I understood before the meetings began that we would be discussing the new Medtronic Minimed 530g with Enlite and discussing diabetes advocacy, but beyond that, no clue. I knew that Medtronic Diabetes and Bayer HealthCare had selected members of the diabetes online community (DOC) regardless of insulin delivery system and CGM choice. (You heard Dexcoms and different beeps and boops going off throughout the sessions. Ahh, the sultry song of diabetes.)
Those who attend as well as those who don't often wonder why these individuals were chosen to represent the diabetes contingency. (I see the questions on Twitter and the comments on blogs and other social media portals.) I still don't have an answer on that, but we all had one thing in common: passion.
And that passion wasn't just coming from the advocates. It came from almost every person I encountered with a role at Medtronic Diabetes. They do want to know what we think, not just about their products and how they present them (and we didn't disappoint in our answers, believe me), but about how they can help. Not air quotes help, but real how-can-we-use-our-voice-to-help.
Not once did they try to sell us something. Not a product or a line or lip service. The Medtronic Diabetes representatives were frank and forthright, matching the honesty of the attendees. I heard apologies for missteps and long waits for better CGM sensors for their products. I heard requests for better ways to communicate. I heard agreement towards greater participation with advocates to reach goals.
There was laughter. And tears. And a lot of beeps. We all scribbled on notepads and tapped on smartphones and laptops. Sessions occurred in which decisions about future advocacy initiatives were identified and visions questioned for clarity. Some of my moments of ah-ha! came not in the meeting, but in sidebar conversations. Advocacy happens everywhere.
I'll get to the nitty-gritty of what happened in later posts, but I flew home with that feeling in my gut that burns deep.
It ends with us. All of us. Not just advocates, but everyone who is passionate about ending. That includes Big Pharma and device manufacturers and government. Us. There is no longer a "them".
And in order for it to end with us, it has to begin with us.
Get ready, because...
It ends with us.
*Medtronic Diabetes and Bayer HealthCare paid for my travel expenses and meals in connection with the Third Diabetes Advocate Forum where we discussed online and offline diabetes advocacy as well as Medtronic products and therapies such as MiniMed 530G with Enlite. I have received no compensation from either Medtronic or Bayer in exchange for writing this post and the opinions I am sharing are my own.