I am the first to admit that my name is not especially easy to remember. Or spell. Or even pronounce. I blame my parents. They could have called me Cindy. That would have been easier. And I would have managed to find cups, drink bottles, novelty number plates and key rings with my name printed across them. Plus, Miss Helena would have seen me through the Romper Room window.

My first name is pronounced as it is spelt: Ren-za. My surname is a little more difficult. It’s pronounced Shi-bil-ia. This is mighty confusing because it is spelt Scibilia, so people usually think it starts with a ‘sk’ sound. For some unknown reason, they often add an ‘r’ so it becomes ‘Scribbler’.

I have been doing lots of radio interviews in recent weeks and the media monitoring that arrives in my inbox in the last week has reminded me just how tough people find my name.

One day, I was apparently ‘Brenda Chevalier’; another, ‘Peta Shivanya’. Today, I had to correct a radio presenter who was calling me ‘Wendel’. These errors caused much humour and many fabulous comments from friends when I posted them on a couple of my social media pages. (I would like to point out that none these mistakes come close to my all-time favourite: ‘Wendy Lichtenstein’. That chick sounds fierce!)

I get it – my name is not typical. Most people will never have heard my surname before and even I have not met another Renza. But here’s the thing. When I do an interview, the radio station has received an email with my name spelt out. They have probably had a conversation with a media advisor or PR person who has clearly said my name. And then, once I get on the phone I not only say, but spell my name very clearly and explain how to pronounce my surname.

So what does this demonstrate? Well, it shows once again that no matter how much care you take to give the right information, it will be interpreted however people choose to interpret it. This is one of the issues with diabetes in the media. The number of times we see and hear diabetes being misreported is horrendous. In fact, it is a rare occurrence for the facts to be correct, the images to be appropriate and the details finessed.

I take a lot of care to prepare the person interviewing me. They are usually sent the Diabetes Australia Language Position Statement prior to speaking to me for the first time. I make a particular point of clearly stating that I do not want to be referred to as a ‘sufferer’ and would prefer to not be called (a) ‘diabetic’. And yet, it inevitably happens!

When it is important to state the different types of diabetes and explain how type 1 and type 2 differ, I always take great care to do that. And yet, there appears to be an inability (or perhaps, lack of care) from the reporter to actually get the facts right.

I’ve stopped getting annoyed when people in the media get my name wrong. If it happens around me, I politely correct them and move on. I’ve still got a way to go before I stop getting annoyed when people in the media get diabetes wrong but mostly that is because I believe it often contributes to the stigma associated with the condition I live with.

But I have learnt to not take it personally. Even when it is my own name that is being butchered!

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