Editor’s note: Written by guest blogger, Matthew Tilton, D.O. He is a family medicine resident in Salina, Kansas, and the father of 6-year-old Adalyn, who lives with type 1 diabetes (T1D).
I have never been much of a trend follower. I thought this was out of a desire to maintain my individuality, but my kids have informed me the real reason is I am just getting old.
I refuse to acknowledge that this may be a contributing factor, and I am going to make an exception this one time. (Well, probably more often now that I am aware it irritates my children but I digress).
About this time every year, I see a multitude of social media posts regarding the wide variety of things people are thankful for. I am actually a big fan of this modern tradition. If nothing else, it inspires a little self-reflection and always provides a little perspective.
I know this isn’t social media but feel that this is close enough to get credit. I’ll give it my best shot.
I am thankful for insulin, continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps, medical professionals and so much more that I don’t have the word count to list. My 6-year-old daughter, Adalyn, lives a near normal life due to these medical advancements and the amazing people that help her stay healthy.
I am also thankful for the access we have to medical care and life-changing medical technology. As a family medicine resident physician that specializes in working in underserved communities, I am painfully aware that many have not been afforded this same access.
Please understand, I would never take these advancements for granted.
That said, I want more.
I want a cure.
WE Want a Cure
For three generations, my family has faced autoimmune disease, not just T1D.
My mother was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE. She was healthy prior to her diagnosis and declined quickly despite treatment.
In my intern year of family medicine residency, I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, a lung disease that can also involve the skin, eyes, liver or kidneys.
Four short months later, my daughter was diagnosed with T1D.
My wife noticed her symptoms long before I did. I was under the irrational notion that she couldn’t possibly have T1D right after I was diagnosed.
I was wrong.
Having dealt with these issues as a son, father, a patient, and as a physician, I feel that I am uniquely qualified to definitively say that autoimmune diseases are terrible.
As we all know, it is really easy to look at a problem and say, “Oh yes, that should be fixed.”
It is a completely different story to actually make it happen.
My wife, Cassie, a nurse practitioner, and I have decided to spend our lives serving the medically underserved. After residency, we will be practicing at a Midwest Federally Qualified Health Center that focuses on populations that may not have many of the resources previously mentioned.
If I were a researcher, I would certainly be focused working toward a cure. That just isn’t in my wheelhouse.
But I can help those in need until the time comes when a cure is readily available. Make no mistake, this is not a feel-good story. This is a call to action. I am asking you to join me in working towards a cure, and I would never ask you to do something I am not willing to do myself. I live it. We live it.
Earlier this year, JDRF announced a partnership with organizations like the Lupus Research Alliance and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
These partnerships were designed to create joint research and collaboration in order to help us better understand and advance cures for not just T1D, but all autoimmune diseases.
This is a huge step in the right direction.
These organizations are doing the work; they just need our support.
If you aren’t sure how to make a difference, advocacy with JDRF is one way to make it happen.
But there are others. The possibilities are only limited by what you can dream up.
Find your something and make it your own. We are so close to finding a cure; we just have to finish strong.
Learn more about how to get involved with JDRF by consulting our Community resources, our Advocacy resources, and our Clinical Trials resources.