Don’t Call Me ‘Advocate’

This blog has always, always, always been my own personal blog about my own life and thoughts about living with diabetes. To the people who’ve checked in here over the years, and who’ve identified with what I’ve had to say here, I’m truly humbled. If you haven’t, that’s more than okay too. How boring would the world be if we all agreed on everything?

I’ve done a lot of things in the time that I’ve been blogging here. Speaking, writing, travelling, networking, conferencing, committee-ing, advocating, passing on information to the wider community and continually adding to my amazing tribe of people with and connected to diabetes.

I absolutely love that diabetes has given me the opportunity to take a massive step outside of my comfort zone and do all of these things. I love that the DOC has connected me to people from all over the world, and given me the opportunity to take an interest in what’s important to other people outside of my eyes as a highly privileged person living in a country that affords me so many privileges.

While this role might seem ‘special’ or ‘important’ or ‘exciting’ or ‘privileged,’ I don’t really see it as anything more than being a person with diabetes. I’d probably be the first person in the room to make it abundantly clear that I do not represent any other person with diabetes. I have no interest in representing any other person with diabetes, nor could I possibly do so. The absolute last thing I am qualified to do is provide advice to other people with diabetes.

I hate the word ‘advocate,’ because it implies that I am advocating for all people with diabetes. Or that I am somehow better than another person with diabetes. While advocacy might come easier to some than to others, it’s not something that anyone else couldn’t do. Even the smallest act of explaining diabetes to somebody else, or asking your healthcare team for something that you want – is advocacy.

That’s not to say that I don’t have the interests of the wider diabetes community at heart. It’s just that I would not possibly be able to highlight every single issue around diabetes in the world. Not to mention that my interests, such as peer support and psycho-social issues, would be totally different to that of someone who might be interested in nutrition or science.

I laugh every time friends tell me how articulate I am, because so many different people have said it and it is so true. But in reality, I can only ever advocate for myself, drawing upon my own experiences as a person living with diabetes.

That does not make me a diabetes advocate.

I’m simply a person who lives with diabetes.

And while we’re at it, the hashtag #AADEDSMS on Twitter is well worth a read, with a lot of discussion around being inclusive from a recent Ascensia summit in America.

One Comment

  1. Rick Phillips

    Well Frank, no one says an advocate needs to advocate for others. In essence being advocate means at the base level that you advocate for people to better understand our disease. I advocate for a number of things, sometimes I do it for myself, sometimes I do it for others but mostly I do it so others will understand the issue.

    I hate to tell you Frank, you are an advocate.

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