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Forever looking for community | Diabetic

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As someone who lives with diabetes, I am acutely aware of the importance of medical checkups. Eye screenings, kidney screenings, neuropathy screenings, mental health screenings, these are all part of my diabetes care.

In my opinion, screening is non-negotiable. Because I live with a chronic health condition and I refuse to stay in that lane and instead try to spread love all around me. And “love” means “risking many other things.” Diabetes, the gift that keeps on giving.

Similarly, I have (almost) always been proactive about cervical cancer screening. Regular pap smears were scheduled for him every two years. Cervical cancer screening is different now. This test is done every five years (hooray!) and is expected to protect nearly a third more people from cervical cancer than the old pap smear (hooray!). Ta!). There is also a DIY version available if you prefer. It’s great to see progress making unpleasant medical procedures a little less unpleasant.

After last year’s big birthday, I knew there would be more screenings, and sure enough, just before blowing out the final candles of the protracted birthday celebration, Australian Government and Victorian Both governments have sent me love letters of aid. I will protect my health. The Australian Government’s Bowel Screening Program came with a kit to perform the screening at home. The Victorian government then sent me a letter urging me to book a breast exam.

I eagerly went for it and got my mammogram done at my local Victoria Breast Screen Center. That was about 3 weeks ago. I didn’t give it another thought until right before I took a long-haul flight home and opened an email asking me to come back for a follow-up appointment. There were changes in my screening mammogram that needed further investigation. I’ve spent the past week and a half oscillating between ignoring things and stressing out, having spent an enjoyable 30 hours home imagining every conceivable catastrophic scenario (because of the soap opera). I did.

And here we are today. I had a follow up appointment this morning and long story short everything is fine. (Just a little story: I had his 3D mammogram, my breasts contorted into an expert-level origami shape, and he took a million images to show me that everything was okay.) Please come back in two years.)

As I walked back to the car, I took a deep breath, scolded my stupid brain for trying to make things seem bigger and scarier than they needed to be, and then told myself I needed to be kinder to myself. Felt.

I don’t know what it’s like not to live with a chronic health condition that puts high expectations on regular check-ups and puts pressure on your mental health. To be honest, I wish I had done that. Because I know that the way I feel – my anxiety, my stress, my obsession with worst-case scenarios – has been shaped by living with diabetes for 26 years. You cannot turn off this feeling or react differently. Everything I see I see through diabetes tinted glasses, so I can’t force myself to think about things through any other lens.

This is the reality of living with diabetes. And it’s the legacy of horrific images and campaigns and messages that has taught me that it’s all inevitable. Of course, I’ve been hearing that for so long that I’m going to expect the worst. It wasn’t a huge leap for me to think straight to the worst about a call back after a mammogram.

So, because community was everything to me, I reached out to friends who had breast cancer as soon as I could. I needed to connect with someone with lived experience. Is there anyone better to discuss things with? And then the next person is a friend of mine who is diabetic and recently had a pretty similar experience to me (and same result). Of course, I read everything BreastScreen Victoria sent me, but I needed to humanize the situation. And the only way I could do that was by talking to people with lived experience who could come next to me and wrap me in a quilt of understanding and reality. It’s really all about community. – No matter what community it is.

While we’re talking about community…

Not yet shared and signed? Petition calling for fair access to AIDs for Australians with T1D, please! This is a community-led initiative developed by people with diabetes in consultation with other stakeholders who have come together to advance advocacy on this issue. He has already gathered nearly 1,500 signatures and is seeing it shared widely in community groups and organizations. Thank you to everyone who participated in this advocacy and supported our community.

Click to sign

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