Rick Blickstead
Rick Blickstead
President & CEO, Canadian Diabetes Association

ince then, the progress achieved in managing diabetes is nothing short of miraculous. We understand and can manage it much better thanks to the medications, testing devices, and the expertise of dedicated health care professionals.

While it may be easier to live with diabetes today than in the past, it is never easy. Diabetes produces high blood sugar that can damage organs, blood vessels, and nerves — contributing to 30 percent of strokes, 40 percent of heart attacks, 50 percent of kidney failure requiring dialysis, 70 percent of non-traumatic leg and foot amputations, as well as being a leading cause of blindness.

Every person living with diabetes — whether Type 1, Type 2, or gestational — has a different journey, but all share the need to eat a healthy diet and be physically active. Many share the challenge of testing their blood sugars, taking medications — potentially including insulin, and monitoring their health for the first signs of the impacts of diabetes on their bodies.

The medications, devices, and treatments continue to improve — including Canadian-led advances coming from research funded by the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA). Innovations are oncoming, including blood sugar monitoring that does not involve finger pricking, and an artificial pancreas that reacts to blood sugar levels in real-time.

While research developments are encouraging, they do not always benefit everyone who needs them. Fair access to devices, medications, and health care professionals varies across Canada depending on where you live and your insurance plans. Shockingly, there are Canadians living with diabetes today who must choose between food, rent, utilities, or medication.

The key to living well with diabetes — and not have it control your life — is a network of family, friends, and health care professionals to support you.

The fact that diabetes takes no breaks can make living with it difficult. Once you have it, it is 24/7/365. The key to living well with diabetes — and not have it control your life — is a network of family, friends, and health care professionals to support you. That network includes associations and patient groups, which offer education and resources to everyone involved in the fight against diabetes. This fall, an online two-minute Type 2 diabetes risk questionnaire is also available at www.diabetestest.ca.

This fight is becoming ever more important as another Canadian is diagnosed with diabetes every three minutes, adding to the 11 million already living with diabetes or prediabetes. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and World Diabetes Day falls on the 14th — the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting. These reminders give us a chance to make this invisible epidemic visible so we can end its health complication and stigma, and through research, end diabetes altogether.