Last night, I was lucky enough to attend the 2015 Research Australia Awards Dinner and celebrate the best in Australian health and medical research, and advocacy

The reason I was there was to tweet. Actually, that’s not the truth, but I thought I should mention it considering that both emcee, (ABC’s national health reporter) Sophie Scott, and Diabetes Australia CEO, Greg Johnson made particular reference to it when addressing the audience.

The real reason I was there was because Diabetes Australia was awarding its annual Outstanding Award for Diabetes Research.

This year’s winner of the award is the inimitable Professor Peter Colman from the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

I could spend words and words and words explaining why Peter is a worthy recipient (read here for just some of his wonderful work). Anyone who knows him – or knows of him – would understand why he was a most deserved winner. His acceptance speech was, as expected, humble and appreciative. And he offered an insightful perspective of diabetes research.

The other highlight for me was the Advocacy award which this year went to brother and sister team Connie and Samuel Johnson who are responsible for Love Your Sister. Connie is living with terminal breast cancer and together with her brother has been raising awareness about the importance of young women being ‘breast aware’ and raising money for breast cancer research at the Garvan Institute.

Connie gave an impassioned speech about why medical research is critical to cancer. She implored that we need to stop the misconception that thinking positive cures cancer. ‘The real fact of the matter is that medicine cures cancer,’ she said. ‘Not postive thinking; not prayers.’

Obviously, Connie was speaking to a room full of researches; she was preaching to the converted. But she is absolutely right. Advances in medicine and improved outcomes – whether in cancer, diabetes or other health conditions – are due to research. They are not due to people being optimistic and cheerful.

I like to think that I am a very positive person, but no amount of positive thinking is going to beat my BGLs into submission or frighten my beta cells back into action.

That doesn’t mean that I am throwing myself a pity party, and I certainly don’t think that is what Connie was suggesting. For me the balance is this: feeling positive or having a positive attitude is all good and well, and it probably does make the day-to-day acceptance of living with diabetes easier. But it is the insulin, the devices and the tools I use that actually treat my condition.

We need more money going into medical research. We need to reward our medical researchers for their work and commitment and dedication. I was honoured to be in a room full of these incredible people last night and so glad that I got to personally thank and congratulate one of my diabetes research heroes.

(All this reminded me of this e-card which is cheeky, but makes me laugh every time I see it!)

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