I live in Melbourne, so I’ve been led to believe that the Holy Grail has something to do with winning this:

However, my limited interest in Aussie Rules football (althoughthis may change by September if the Blues start winning, when I’ll suddenly become a die-hard fan) means that for me, the Holy Grail looks more like this:

 or this:

 Whatever!

When it comes to living with type 1 diabetes, what is the Holy Grail? Many would say it’s a cure. The day when we no longer need to medicate, consider the impact of food on our blood sugar, worry about complications and our future. That could be it.

For me, a cure is actually not my Holy Grail. And I say that because in all honesty, I don’t think that in my lifetime there will be cure for this condition. You may call me negative or a pessimist. I call myself a realist.

Someone asked me the other day if I had to choose, where I would want my research money going. The choices? Dedicated cure-focussed research or management-focussed research. Each and every time I would say the latter. I want lots of money and support directed to the people who are working at making the lives of those of us already living with this condition a little easier! 

Think about it. If this sort of research hadn’t been done in the past there wouldn’t be insulin pumps or long-acting insulins or super-fast, super-small BGL meters. We wouldn’t have drugs that can prevent, reverse or halt the progression of complications. CGMS would not exist and no one would be talking about the need for psychosocial interventions when it comes to living with the chronic condition we call diabetes. (Actually, more needs to be done on that last one, but at least we’re talking about it now. Shout out to the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes team.)

Lucky, it’s not an ‘either/or’ situation. There is research into both finding a cure and improving the lives of us living with the condition. And there’s also work being done looking at preventing type 1 diabetes, too.  But for me, I get excited when new technologies are announced – and even more excited when they are available for use. (Counting down the days until I get my hands on an iBGStar!)

I wonder if this is a preservation tactic on my part. Like many, I was assured at diagnosis that a cure was a mere ’five years away’. Well, it’s been over 14 years. Those five years have lapsed almost three times now. I have friends who have had diabetes for over 25 years and they too were promised a cure. And I know this is the rhetoric continuing to be sprouted. The hope this instils in people worries me. I see parents with a newly diagnosed infant who desperately, urgently hold on to that number, counting down the five years. Waiting for that cure. But it isn’t here. And when we look at what’s being done, a cure – an end to diabetes – is not ‘just around the corner’.

But rather than defeat me, it does give me hope. Because I know how much is being done. And I regularly see new advancements that actually help people who are living with diabetes here and now. Those advancements could be a new drug that reduces the risk of retinopathy, it could be a CGM that accurately and without fail can warn you that you are 10 minutes away from a hypo, so TREAT NOW! It could be each step we get closer to the closed loop.

There’s a lot going on. Put all your eggs into the cure basket and I think that you may be disappointed. Do we deserve a cure? Of course we bloody do!  But I’m really, really glad that as clever people are working towards that particular goal, there are a lot of others working towards improved management.

Holy grail? Here’s a bit of Hunters and Collectors for you! I dare you not to dance along!

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