Let’s Stop Talking to Ourselves—We Can Save Lives


Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Diabetes Mine as “Danger: Flu Season, Undiagnosed Diabetes and Talking to Ourselves.”

Hunter Chandler, a 14 year old boy from Missouri, a twin, had been sick, with symptoms similar to those commonly experienced with the flu. By the time the teenager was hospitalized and tests were performed, his organs began to fail and it was too late to reverse the deadly effects of DKA. Hunter’s twin brother Logan, who had been ill, but had not displayed the same extreme symptoms, was given a simple blood test, and it was discovered his blood sugar levels were dangerously elevated. Logan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and lived, while Hunter, like many others before him, tragically did not. Hunter died on January 1, 2018.

How is it with all that modern medicine has to offer, that today a boy can die from type 1 diabetes while his twin lives? Because Hunter’s diagnosis did not come in time. Early warning signs, like unquenchable thirst and frequent urination, can be easily excused. Headaches and blurry vision can be dismissed, while irritability, weight loss and fatigue can be ignored. By the time nausea, vomiting and rapid or labored breathing set in, often the flu or a virus is suspected.

With all that the internet, social media and technology has to offer, how is it possible that  the majority of the population still does not understand that undiagnosed type 1 diabetes is fatal? Because the majority of people really talking about type 1 are the people living with type 1, and we are primarily talking, often in anger, amongst ourselves. We are debating why this disease isn’t called something else, or why no one should tell your kid they can’t eat whatever they want. We are battling about which companies are conspiring against us, which researchers have the only right answer, which joke has offended us, which comment should roll off our backs. We’re fighting in tweets, in blogs, in comments and in all caps, lobbing these words at ourselves, while type 1 sneaks in and claims another life.

I have written about the death of a child before and today, with great sorrow, I write about another. I do so with hope that the words I am deploying might land just right this time, that we can turn from our internal debates and use the power of our community to educate others, those on the outside. If we can arm the community with the information and empower them to just ask for that urine test or that finger stick just to make certain it is in fact the flu, or an infection, or a virus. If we can do that, together, then together, we can save lives.

Share the warning signs and ask others to share them too, and we, at Beyond Type 1, will keep doing the same and maybe next time a brother won’t have to grow up without his twin.

For more information about global efforts to raise awareness read about Beyond Type 1’s #SeeTheSigns of diabetes campaign.

WRITTEN BY Sarah Lucas, POSTED 01/20/18, UPDATED 11/09/22

Sarah’s daughter Mary was diagnosed with Type 1 in 1998 at the tender age of 7, igniting a passion for education, advocacy and supporting research for a cure. It was this passion, and a desire to help people live well today, that led her to co-found Beyond Type 1 in 2015 with Juliet de Baubigny, Nick Jonas and Sam Talbot. Prior to founding Beyond Type 1, Sarah was a celebrated event designer, writer and lifestyle expert and the creative force behind two Bay Area event + production firms. A passionate and life-long philanthropist, she has raised over $15 million for Bay Area charities and served on the board of several California and national organizations focused on youth, health and education. When she's not fighting to make the world a better place, you will find her hanging out with her awesome family, practicing yoga, and exploring the world - frequently on her bicycle.