In the US alone, more than 34 million people, or 10.5% of the population, have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Whether it's a friend, family member, or loved one, there's a good chance that you know someone with the chronic condition. But unless you experience diabetes firsthand, it's hard to understand what day-to-day life with the condition is like.
Making sure you get informed and understand the chronic condition is incredibly important. To help open the dialogue, we spoke to three women living and thriving with diabetes. Keep reading to see them break down some common myths about the condition.
Having Diabetes Is Not a Choice
Anyone can be diagnosed with diabetes, regardless of one's lifestyle or age. "You don't get diabetes from overindulging on cupcakes," said plus-size fashion influencer Alysse Santiago. "People think eating too much sugar causes diabetes, and that's just not correct."
Alysse recommended always using inclusive language to remove harmful notions about diabetes. "You don't want to feel like you have to hide who you are," she said. "There is nothing to be ashamed of when you have diabetes."
There's No Cure
When Paloma Kemak was diagnosed with diabetes at 23 years old, she felt lost knowing there is no cure. "I felt like I was the only person on this planet living with diabetes," she said. "It felt like no one understood me."
Two years into her diagnosis, Paloma realized that if she was going to live with this condition forever, she might as well make the most out of it. That's when she created the online persona Glitter Glucose as a way to connect with other people living with diabetes.
Since then, her presence has expanded to not only advocate for her community, but also educate her followers on what it really means to have diabetes. "My messaging has changed so much over the years," Paloma said. "Before it was, 'I'm a diabetic,' and then it changed to, 'I'm a girl living with diabetes.' Now it's just, 'I'm a girl living.'"
Diabetes Becomes a Part of Everyday Life
Lexie Peterson is an advocacy influencer who has been living with diabetes since she was 10 years old. Being diagnosed at such a young age forced her to grow up quickly.
Even for something as simple as grocery shopping or working out, Lexie needs to plan ahead and check her glucose levels. "When I'm leaving the house to go anywhere, I'm thinking, 'How long am I going to be gone? How many emergency snacks do I need to pack?'" she said.
Lexie said having the right tools, like the Abbott's FreeStyle Libre 2 System, is key to managing her glucose levels. The device alerts Lexie if her glucose levels are too high or too low and helps her make informed decisions throughout the day.
Abbott's FreeStyle Libre 2 was recently cleared by the U.S. FDA as an integrated continuous glucose monitoring system that measures glucose data every minute (vs. every five minutes) for adults and children age 4+. The system features real-time alarms† to alert users when glucose levels are too high or low without scanning.‡ This latest technology sustains performance for up to 14 days1, providing data to give you peace of mind that you’re making the best choices for your health.
It's Not a Huge Disruption
Managing diabetes doesn't have to be a disruption to someone's day. Paloma said that the Abbott's FreeStyle Libre 2 System allows her to live her life in a simpler way and on her own terms. "It's just a quick scan," she said. "I know what my blood sugar is, and I know where it's going."
While on a work trip in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Alysse was able to lounge by the pool, worry free. "I took out my reader and just scanned my sensor on my arm. It wasn't even a point of conversation," she said. "I live a very full life, and diabetes management is a part of that."
At the end of the day, don't be afraid to open up the conversation to your friends living with diabetes in order to get informed.
About Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre 2 System:
The FreeStyle Libre 2 Flash Glucose Monitoring System is a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device with real time alarms capability indicated for the management of diabetes in persons age 4 and older.* The FreeStyle Libre 2 system includes a self-applied sensor (the size of two-stacked quarters) that is the easiest glucose sensor to apply1 and worn on the back of the upper arm, eliminating the need for painful fingersticks to test glucose levels.‡ Easily check your glucose levels with a painless2 one-second scan instead of a fingerstick.‡
WARNINGS/LIMITATIONS*: The System must not be used with automated insulin dosing (AID) systems, including closed loop and insulin suspend systems. Remove the sensor before MRI, CT scan, X-ray, or diathermy treatment. Do not take high doses of Vitamin C (more than 500mg per day), as this may falsely raise your Sensor readings. Failure to use the System according to the instructions for use may result in missing a severe low blood glucose or high blood glucose event and/or making a treatment decision that may result in injury. If glucose alarms and readings from the System do not match symptoms or expectations, use a fingerstick blood glucose value to make diabetes treatment decisions. Seek medical attention when appropriate and contact Abbott Toll Free (855-632-8658) or visit* www.freestylelibre.us for detailed indications for use and safety information.
*For full indications for use and safety information, see more here.
†Notifications will only be received when alarms are turned on and the sensor is within 20 feet of the reading device
‡Fingersticks are required if your glucose alarms and readings do not match symptoms or when you see Check Blood Glucose symbol in the first twelve hours.
1Data on file. Abbott Diabetes Care.
2Haak T, et al. Flash glucose-sensing technology as a replacement for blood glucose monitoring for the management of insulin-treated type 2 diabetes: a multicentre, open-label randomised controlled trial. Diabetes Ther. 2017;8(1):55-73.