I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing the first time that I read about promising research to cure type I diabetes. My daughter Arden was two years old, it was early fall, just a few months after her type I diabetes diagnosis and my emotions were volatile.
I read the article with precision focus, it promised that researchers had cured type I diabetes in lab mice and told of the goal to begin human trials as soon as they could secure funding – after all, research is expensive.
I woke my wife and told her about this amazing news saying, "Arden is only going to have diabetes for a few years, they cured it in mice". I was crying uncontrollably.
That moment happened over eight years ago and since then countless lucky mice have been cured but it was only recently that I came to understand why we see so much hopeful, yet ultimately crushing news articles about diabetes cures in the fall.
It's diabetes cure season. Diabetes awareness month is November and the media; television news, newspapers and online sources pay close attention to matching their stories with the calendar, because it's what works and how things have always been done. Let me explain...
Have you ever seen me on television, heard me on the radio or read something about me that was focused on parenting and mentions my book, Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Dad? If you have, did you happen to notice that all of those appearances happened in early summer, you know, around Father's Day.
Maybe you read my piece about head injuries as they relate to football, the one that ran on Huffington Post three days before the Superbowl?
Producers need content and they want that content to be relevant to the calendar. People need exposer and they (me included) take it where they can get it. So whether it's a writer trying to let people know about their parenting memoir, or a researcher wanting to get wide exposer for their work so that they can attract more research dollars – if you pay close attention to the calendar, you'll see that the "news" you are being given is carefully scheduled and targeted to your emotions and the events that are about to happen in the world. The news is marketed to you to elicit clicks, shares and word of mouth.
Much of the diabetes cure research that we will hear about in the coming weeks is very promising and I am one-hundred million percent behind all of it. Please just keep in mind that is was also very promising research six months ago, but now is when you are going to read the big news, on every media outlet – all from reputable institutions.
Don't misunderstand, one of these researchers is going to figure it out and I hope that it happens soon and perhaps even is one of the methods that is being bandied about today. But when I woke up this morning to see all of you on social media feeling like I did eight years ago, it broke my heart to remember how I felt after the moment had passed and I realized that the promising lab mouse cure wasn't going to take away Arden's type I diabetes – at least not any time soon. I didn't decide to write this post until I opened up my text messages and saw that my brother also read today's cure "news" and asked me if the article was legitimate.
The answer that I owe my brother but cant bring myself to send him... that news article is legitimate but it isn't going to cure Arden now. I love you for wanting that for her and I am so sorry that these thoughts are part of your day. I wanted you and everyone reading this to understand how these news cycles work because I know how shattering it is when they turn from Diabetes Cure Found! to Thanksgiving Treats That You Can Make at Home.
Wonderful research that will one day cure type I diabetes is going on all over the world and there are a ton of good reasons to be hopeful about them, but these articles aren't going to be how we find out that a cure has been found. On the day that happens, the world will celebrate the end of diabetes with a grand spectacle, no one will have to wonder if it is legitimate.
You are all, each and every one of you, in my thoughts today.