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[IP] Who should represent diabetes?

    A diabetic woman in my city is always present at fundraising walks and runs, etc. She is nearly blind, has horrible neuropathy, and has a St. Bernard dog pulling her in a makeshift red wagon/cart. She keeps a container of glucose tabs on a string around her neck. Naturally, she gets a lot of media attention. That's fine--any notice for the disease in the newspapers and tv is fine, I guess.
    But the woman says and does such stupid stuff! Just like the woman you met, her diet is out-of-whack, and she takes only two shots of NPH per day. And she becomes the de facto spokesperson for everyone with diabetes in this city.
    But she also made the newspaper a few months ago in a nice human interest story. She passed out at home and the dog "saved her life" by barking loudly and alerting the neighbors that something was wrong. Her neighbors came over and immediately called 911. How did her neighbors know how to respond? Well, buried in the story was the answer: this same thing had happened 3 times already this year.
    I have two thoughts about people like this:
    First, her situation is terrible, and I feel fortunate that I am not in her position. Her visibility may help many people become aware of diabetes, and support research, education, etc. Her extreme condition may convince diabetics and non-diabetics of the seriousness of the disease.
    On the other hand, she has not demonstrated that she can take care of herself, and this makes her condition more pitiful. She is not a role model for anyone with diabetes, nor is she a positive story for a person who tries hard to take care of him or herself--she may only scare and discourage a person who recently been diagnosed, for example.
    This is not media jealousy, by any means: I don't want to be the guy that Channel 7 calls on whenever they want an insider's story about diabetes, but I think someone other than this woman would do a better job. A person who knows the seriousness of diabetes, works to stay healthy, and can attest to the benefits of research and education would be the type of person I would like to read about. Persons who are not aware of diabetes might benefit from seeing another side of diabetes, rather than witnessing the antics of this woman, whom a friend from the ADA once termed "a freak show." Despite the care and concern of her doctors and the ADA programs, she doesn't help herself out.
    Again, I pity this woman and her condition. I am sure she is a good person, but she doesn't represent what I want people to see. I probably don't need to solicit responses, but here goes: does anyone agree or disagree?