Let’s pretend that tomorrow, we all woke up and on the front page of every newspaper around the globe there was this announcement: ‘Cure for type 1 diabetes found’. Details in the article under that beautiful heading told us that there was a cure that met the ‘Three As’: it was Affordable, Accessible, and Available to every single person with diabetes around the world that very day. All that was required was a simple visit to a hospital for a dose of ‘Diabetes Be Gone’, and you, or your loved one, would no longer have type 1 diabetes.

How would you react? Would you do it?

In recent times, I’ve been following some online discussions in other health and disability groups about curing conditions and what that means. There is push back from some groups saying that they don’t like the idea of being cured (or having their kids cured) because it is part of their identity and that by saying they need to be ‘fixed’ in some way is claiming they’re less than whole – or somehow inferior.

A lot of the criticism is aimed at parents of children with disabilities or other chronic health conditions who are desperately hoping there will be a cure for their child. Adults with those same conditions are urging these parents to stop considering their child is broken and looking for the thing that will ‘fix’ them.

I find myself feeling conflicted when reading these discussions, and don’t ever really comment myself. But I have been thinking a lot about how it relates to diabetes. (For the record, none of the conversations I’ve been reading have anything to do with diabetes. Some people participating have disabilities, some have (other) chronic health conditions.)

I can claim –and do – that I am not defined by diabetes. I can shout that diabetes does not equal my identity and that it is just a part of me. But it would be disingenuous to suggest that my life has not been shaped by diabetes. My thought process is very different now there’s the constant hum diabetes in the background. I have chosen a job that is most directly influenced by being diagnosed with diabetes. The way I behave and the things that I am committed have a strong connection to being a person living with diabetes.

Where my constant frustration and advocacy efforts used to be directed at the lack of funding in the arts, that attention is now shared with a larger, more desperate concern about lack of funding in health. I used to go into bat for music education to be valued as highly in schools as maths and science, and now I want to know why diabetes is not given the same consideration, funding, research attention as other health conditions.

Diabetes is not and never will be all of me. But it is undeniably a very large part of me and I cannot deny that the person I am today has been moulded by being a person living with diabetes.

So what would I do if there was that cure? If it meant taking away the thing that does keep me employed, writing, speaking at conferences – the thing that, probably more than anything, I am known for?

What would I do if my dose of ‘Diabetes be Gone’ made all that redundant?

I would queue up. I would wait for my turn in line until the cure was handed to me and I would take it, savouring the moment that I no longer had the worry, the stress, the anxiety, the heartache that accompanies living with diabetes. I would happily and without a second thought remove the very part of me that has, to a great degree, made me the person I am today.

Because the truth of the matter is, I do believe I need to be fixed. I have a part of my body that is broken and does not do what it is meant to do. The longer I live with diabetes, there are increased chances that I will develop complications associated with this condition. And today – every day that I am living with it – things happen that mean I have to stop, treat and recover from whatever diabetes throws at me.

Does it make me a lesser person? No. Does it make me a broken person? It makes a part of me broken, so perhaps yes…yes it does.

I am not ashamed I have diabetes. I am a strong advocate, able to stand up for myself and ask for (and get) what I need.

But you bet that if there was a way to make this go away, I would want that for myself. And I would want it for every other person in the world who is living with diabetes.

I understand why people with diabetes want a cure. And even more, I understand why parents of kids with diabetes want a cure.

The world needs diversity. And we need to know and understand not everyone is the same, or is perfect. But if there was something that could take away pain, suffering, emotional distress, and all the other diabetes crap, I want it. Even if it meant being out of a job and needing to rediscover and redefine myself.

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