Over the past year, I’ve talked with a number of people who have remarked on a lack of bloggers sharing experiences with type 2 diabetes in the diabetes online community (DOC). Bob Fenton and William Gould both commented on it, and Bea Dominguez took her observations a step further when she formed The Type 2 Experience (TT2E), a collaboration blog dedicated to increasing awareness about type 2. TT2E recently celebrated its one year anniversary, so I thought this was an excellent opportunity to reach out to contributor Kate Cornell to hear her insights on her experience.
Raising Type 2 Awareness
As she has been involved in the DOC, Kate has noticed a shift in perspective. “I’m slowly starting to see some people living with type 1 acknowledging the fact that they really knew nothing about type 2,” she observed. “Reading blogs by people living with type 2 has opened their eyes. I think there’s a subtle shift toward coming together to see if we can fight the stigma that’s sometimes attached to this disease.”
One misperception Kate makes a point to correct centers around blame. “Many people seem to think that we did this to ourselves,” she said. “The idea that gets under my skin the most is that we have type 2 diabetes because we’re just fat, lazy slobs. They seem to think if we would eat a healthier diet and exercise more, then we wouldn’t have this problem. To me, that fuels the guilt and bad feelings those of us with type 2 can experience and often may keep people from taking care of themselves.”
Kate believes it’s important to speak up. “I’ve decided that the best approach to educating others is with kindness, understanding and facts,” she said. “When we hear someone speaking an untruth or perpetuating a bad joke, I think it’s important for all of us who live with diabetes to speak up and say something, not in an angry way but to educate. Say, ‘You know, you’re wrong and this is why.’”
Education about the realities of life with type 2 diabetes is a core focus for TT2E. Contributors come up with their own ideas for posts, and discuss them via a private Facebook group. “I think it’s a really great way to hear several voices in one place,” Kate said. “I try to come up with ideas that would help the type 2 community in general. I try to focus on topics that may heighten the community’s awareness of things that may help them manage their own diabetes, such as emotions, depression and burnout.”
Looking for the Positive
While she has occasionally observed a divide within the diabetes community between those living with type 1 and those living with type 2, Kate prefers to look for similarities. “We’re all dealing with blood sugar issues and the way we deal with those blood sugar issues is often similar,” she said. “We all have to watch what we eat. Many of us need to take medications. The way we deal with burnout and depression may be the same. There are differences but in the end there are so many similarities. I like to focus on that as opposed to any negative feelings that might be out there. There is a lot of positive out there.”
Sharing a Common Experience
TT2E isn’t Kate’s first foray into blogging. After living with type 2 diabetes for six years, Kate started blogging at Sweet Success to help herself stay on track with her diabetes management. As time went on, she became interested in also reaching out to others. “I’ve found it really helps to know that you’re not alone,” she said. “The more people who can blog about their life with diabetes, I think the better it is for the public in general. It’s really important to get the word out to other people, and try to help stomp out some of those diabetes myths that are out there. It’s important to educate people about the realities of diabetes.”
Like others, Kate finds value in writing a diabetes blog. “There aren’t very many type 2 bloggers in the grand scheme of things,” she said. “Yet the majority of adults who live with diabetes have type 2. I think being able to read the stories of people who are living with type 2 diabetes is really important. Sometimes I’ll get a comment on my blog that makes my year, like, ‘I’m so glad I found your blog. It’s nice to know I’m not alone,’ or ‘These are ideas I had not heard of.’ In that way, I feel like I’m making my small impact in the community.”
This year’s Diabetes Blog Week, hosted by Karen Graffeo, reminded Kate what she loves about blogging. “Diabetes Blog Week connects you with a whole lot of other people who have diabetes and are blogging,” she said. “It reminded me of what a wonderful community this is and how important it is to keep our voices out there. In my opinion, a crucial part of dealing with diabetes is staying connected with others and remembering that you’re not alone, and blogging is a way for me to do that.”
It’s fascinating to hear how blogging has impacted some people’s experience with diabetes. Time and time again, I’ve seen how sharing one’s insights and hearing that someone else may relate to your situation, can be an empowering experience. I look forward to seeing how the type 2 voice will continue to evolve in the DOC. My thanks to Kate for sharing her experience and insight.
All the best,
Disclosure: Kate Cornell received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.