Friday, 7 January 2011

Tenacious D - Diane Ranaghan (and don't mess with the D community)

Tenacious D? No, not the creation of Jack Black, this is a real Tenacious D. I wasn't intending to do "yet another diabetes blog" on my "A Flavour of Budd Living" pages. I've posted a fair few recently, and us Budds have a zillion other interests. But it has been a remarkable few days for the world's Diabetes Community, a species that inhabits a parallel planet to "normal life" where we also live when given the chance.

So who's this Tenacious D, and what's the story? It's Diane Ranaghan, a facebook friend of mine that I've never met on Planet Earth, but feel I know quite well from Planet Diabetes. She has a young boy with Type 1 (aka Juvenile) Diabetes, like us, which means we immediately have an understanding that completely outweighs all our differences, like the fact she is from the USA and is rather keen on footwear.

Anyway, on with the story. A couple of days ago the actress and TV presenter Ricki Lake appeared as a guest on "Good Morning America" on ABC, chatting about various things and said "juvenile diabetes is completely preventable" which is untrue, as it's a disease of the auto-immune system. She was possibly confusing it with (the nine times more common) Type 2 diabetes, which is linked with obesity and lack of exercise. (But it ain't necessarily so, lest anyone is going to jump on the "Type 2 is a self-inflicted disease" bandwagon).

OK, people can make mistakes, and who takes what celebs say seriously anyway? (Er, lots of people actually.) But Lake was promoting her book about health, thereby giving her utterances a certain weight to a less informed public.

The Juvenile Diabetes community were incensed by her view, and swung into action. To her credit, Lake issued an apology on her website and by twitter, but the damage was done, as a mistruth had been spread on prime time TV. And the mistruth is counter to the efforts of the D-community to educate people about our disease, seeking public understanding of the condition, warning others about the symptoms, and seeking funding for better management and A Cure.

Public opinion and sympathy is important in a competing market of shitty diseases clamouring for attention and funding. And the last thing it needs is lots of people being informed that these D-kids will have to lump it, because of their lazy, fat, ignorant parents.

Hundreds of people, mainly D-moms wielding insulin pens in one hand and laptops and phones in the other, bombarded the TV company and Lake's people. They lobbied at all levels, overwhelming customer care teams, complaints inboxes, and chief executives' answer machines. They used their knowledge, their personal stories and their passion, to put up a very persuasive case for the retraction of the comment.

But Lake's apology on its own was not enough. They wanted nothing less than a slot on the same show, spelling out that Lake had got it wrong, and what T1D is all about. And that's what they got. So thank you Ricki Lake, and ABC for listening to public opinion, and responding.

So what about Tenacious D? I have no idea how many people were involved in this campaign on behalf of our kids; it was all well beyond my horizon, at home, looking after our boy. But I do know that, from my vantage point, my friend Diane Ranaghan was in there fighting for us all, showing leadership, and tenacity, spiced up with a large dash of guile. As a result of Diane's and the others' efforts, they have turned round a bad story that damaged our community, into a good story with lots of controversy and publicity for the cause. And ABC have said they will come back for more on this topic. 

I'm proud to be part of the world-wide D-community, and proud to be a small part of Diane's world too.


  1. Just goes to show what can be achieved. Now what might help over here is a 'sleb' who is 'on message' with the complaint.

    Do any celebrities have kids with type 1D?

  2. Great post. I too was in awe in what we, as the DOC, can accomplish together. Your buddy Alistair, above there, has a great point and we have been thinking on this...we need a celebrity to be the face to revamp Type 1 and the education of the general public in it. I don't know if Nick Jonas would want to do it or who...but we need MORE to be done for our children. Tell Jules and Frank "hi" from Reyna!!! xoxoxo

  3. I agree. A prime-time prog on the BBC plus a good batch of features on breakfast shows and the like are needed to clarify the big, big difference between types 1 and 2. In fact they are very different so should have completely different names anyway. I knew nothing about Type 1 until Frank, Muffinmoon and Big Swifty taught me. My dad died of Type 2 related problems 'cos although he took his medication he didn't observe the dietery needs. He would be the first to smile on anyone who can learn from his mistakes.



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