Friday, January 06, 2006

If Given the Means to Cure...

Tiffany, over at Candid Diabetes, posed an interesting two-part question to her readers. I suggest you go read the wonderfully articulated scenario she presents on her blog.

Now, because my own response was becoming post-size, I decided to just post it here.

Part one of her question, in a nutshell, asks:

If given the chance, would you agree to take full responsibility in leading an effort to cure disease--commanding a budget in the billions, and working with the world's leading specialists -- with the understanding that you will only learn of the project's limitations after you've accepted the challenge?

Yes, I believe I would.

Part two contains the catch:

If you've accepted the job, you are then told that you can only cure one disease. Which would you choose and why?

Okay, someone is going to hand me billions of dollars and the ability to cure only one disease?

I dream of this scenario every day.

Diabetes, hands down.

Reason Number One (and it's a purely selfish one):

I'd do ANYTHING to take this away from my son-- even incur the wrath of those who might make a different choice.

Reason Number Two:

Millions struggle with this disease every day-- many without the resources to buy an insulin pump, a decent amount of test strips... many without access to the information and support needed to prevent future complications.

Yes, diabetes CAN be managed well. But not by all who have the disease. And for those who can't, it can be as horrific as some of the worst diseases out there.

And for those who can manage well, it's still a struggle each and every day.

Reason Number Three:

There are just so many diseases-- many we aren't even aware of until someone we know develops one of them.

For me, in making this choice, I'd want to have a vested interest. Again, sounds selfish, right?

I don't think so.

In order to lead such an effort, one would have to bring a certain level of passion to the project.

Yes, I would love to see cancer cured (Ryan and I lost both our dads to pancreatic & lung cancer, respectively).

Yes, I would love to see breast cancer go away (my older sister just completed the worst year of her life successfully fighting that one).

But what would I attack with a passion like no other?

Diabetes, hands down.


Kerri's mom said...

As a parent of a diabetic, there is no other choice. My Dad passed away from lung cancer and it was a horrible experience. However, my child (young adult), a part of me, has a disease which is and does everything you describe. My heart wouldn't let me choose any other disease to cure but diabetes.

Anonymous said...

Given what you and your son have to deal with every second of both of your lives, you have every right to be "selfish" (though I wouldn't call it that) in your theoretical scenerio.

Here's hoping that one day soon diabetes will be forever taken off the "What disease would you cure" list.

Thank you for your time and effort on your blog. Good luck to you and Joseph.

Shannon said...

Of course I would choose diabetes because my son has it.

But also because management of and complications from diabetes sucks up billions of dollars each year.

Let's get rid of diabetes so that the money used to manage and treat its complications can go toward the cure of other diseases.

Kerri. said...

As selfish as it sounds, I'm with my mom on this one.

Tiffany said...


Wow. You've added the perfect foil to this discussion; the viewpoint of a parent (which I confess I was on the edge of my seat waiting for).

And there's certainly nothing selfish about basing such a decision on the well-being of your own child. That, in itself, shows the selflessness that only parents are capable of!

Kassie said...

Well stated! And I agree that you aren't being selfish. The passion to conquer diabetes would go far to counter what I perceive as my limitations in such a leadership role.

Allison said...

This is a tough one. I think you bring up excellent reasons to cure diabetes - namely the cost and the fact that millions of diabetics outside of the U.S. are unable to access the medicine and technology to make life even worth living. I feel very blessed to be of the First World in this respect.

But I think if I was forced to go Outside the Box, outside of my normal day-to-day thinking and emotions, I would choose MS or Muscular Dystrophy. Have you seen Mattie Stepanek, the little boy with muscular dystrophy, who lost his siblings and his life at the age of 13? To watch him in that wheelchair, unable to even move, is heartbreaking and I thank God that I didn't get something as fierce and debilitating on the Every Day basis.

Yes, I hate diabetes, and there is always the Threat that diabetes hangs over our heads. But to see something so outwardly life stealing is amazingly awful.

I'm not sure I really answered the question. There are a lot of ways of looking at this question - where money would go, the true quality of life. All diseases (AIDS, MS, ALS, Parkinson's, cancers, childhood leukemia) deserve to be cured. I suppose the only reason I would ever choose Diabetes over something else is simply because I have it. And I'm not sure that's good enough for me.

Sandra Miller said...


Thank you for providing an excellent Reason Number Four.

And Allison,

I shared this hypothetical scenario with Joseph in the car on the way home from school...

"Mom, I know you probably said 'diabetes,' didn't you?"

"Well yes, as a matter of fact I did."

"I wouldn't. I'd feel kind of selfish, you know? I mean I think I'd choose AIDS or cancer... probably cancer because it makes you really, really sick, and you die from it. And, so many people have it.

Diabetes is just really annoying sometimes."

After I shared my reasons for choosing diabetes, Joseph responded with:

"Well yeah, some people can't afford things like test strips, and that sucks. But Mom, I'll bet some people with cancer can't afford stuff either. Yup, I'd choose cancer-- probably breast cancer."

"Well, I'm proud of you for feeling that way."

"But Mom?"

"Yes?" I said as I looked at his face in the rearview, and saw an expression that spoke volumes.

"I'm really glad you said diabetes."

Jamie said...

I'm with you on this one, Sandra. I love how your son responded to the questions though - he sounds like a wonderful boy ... smart, thoughtful and understanding of others (and himself).

It's a tough decision. But, above all, I put my children first - and one of my children HAS Diabetes. No one wants to see their child have any sort of disease. The mother of a child who has cystic fibrosis would answer appropriately.

I definately have a "soft spot" (if you call it that) for cancer as well. I volunteer regularly for the CCS and will continue to do so - it touches so many lives and it is a horrible, horrible disease. BUT, I'd still chose Diabetes .... it's MY passion as well.

(and no, we're not being selfish - we're Moms, it's our job to put our children first :) )

Allison said...

Aw, that's really sweet. Joseph sounds like a very smart, capable young man.

Most of the time, I think that's what diabetes is: Annoying. Fat freaking annoying, but annoying none-the-less.

Vivian said...

I love your reasons, I agree with your reasons. I am a little stuck on this one. My husband would answer Diabetes hands down, honestly this is hard for me to answer, would I cure my husband or my son? My first instinct is my son. When I reason it out in my head, we can control the diabetes but not so much the MS. I will have to think about this. Thanks for the conundrum.=)


Tiffany said...

Straight from the mouths of babes.

Sandra, please give your amazingly empathetic son a big hug from me. His words are wise beyond his years.

And, while I agree with him, I hear my mother's voice whispering softly over my right shoulder: "Until you have kids, you just never know..."

christy214 said...

I was hands down with Diabetes of course too, but after reading about what Joseph said about cancer, I've had to remind myself,Thank god Josh or my husband doesn't have something more terminal. I wouldn't call it Selfish, just a mother who wants her child not to have to suffer anymore.

Shannon said...

Joseph is the most thoughtful, articulate kid (young man). And he's lucky he has a mom who fosters a dialogue so that he can express himself.

Penny said...

Sandra, I wish I could say I'd cure cancer or some other disease that debilitates and kills more people per year than diabetes, but I can't. My sweet boy has it and I'd give anything to make this go away for him. If this is selfics of me, so be it. He's my baby and I hate that he has to go through this every day.

Penny said...

selfics= selfish :-)

Kassie said...

Sandra, your follow up conversation brought tears to my eyes. What a terrific kid (and mom).

Violet said...

I can't tackle the ethics of this question at the moment. I'm way too busy trying to calculate whether, if I have a kid RIGHT NOW, it will grow up fast enough to marry Joseph.

Sure! Eleven or 12 years is nothing where true love is concerned! Okay, I'm on it...

Natalie said...

Sorry to hear about your son. I myself, have 2 teenagers. Myself, I've been a diabetic for 15 years now. Up until recently, a friend of mine gave me a sample of this acai berry juice to try out. I figured why not, he was giving it to me for free. Anyways, I tried it on Monday, Feb. 6/06 and at that time, my blood count was 20. Next day when I checked my blood count again, it dropped to 7.8! I haven't been that low in over 10 years! Needless to say, I was beside myself! This whole week, my blood count hovered between 6 to 8. I'll be going in this week to see my family doctor. My friend posted my story up on his blog, so that I can keep everyone updated as to my progress.

Good luck!