We are thrilled to kick off a new blog series called Why I Advocate. Over the next few months, DPAC will share stories from members of our community to learn why they choose to speak up. Our DPAC Patient Advisory Board members will be the first to share what makes them passionate diabetes advocates.
Moira McCarthy Stanford
My first watershed moment in diabetes advocacy came just a day after my then small child was diagnosed; long before I even knew diabetes advocacy was a thing. We were at the hospital still, my tiny kindergartener laying in a hospital bed while a team of doctors spoke to me across that bed. Out of nowhere – it seemed – my little girl sat up and schooled us all.
“Stop talking over me,” she said, looking at the doctors and then at me. “Talk to me. I am the one with diabetes here. Stop talking like it’s not about me.”
Out of the mouths of kindergarteners.
She was right, and sage enough at the tender age of six to understand that while we did have to focus on integrating all kinds of new tools into our lives: needles and insulin vials and meters and more; there were two tools we had to hone our skills with even more: our brains and our voices.
Following her remarkably mature lead, I did just that. In the near 21 years since that moment in time, I’ve found myself learning and thinking; then speaking up and educating. I’ve been on the floor of Congress, in the offices of world leaders, at the desk of folks working on possible diabetes solutions, and in more rooms than I can count organizing, planning, teaming up with and supporting so many folks in the diabetes community.
And in 21 years, I can honestly say using my brain and voice has helped push forward change. Day to day diabetes treatment is improving in giant leaps. Funding for crucial research programs both public and private have led to some incremental breakthroughs toward what causes this blasted disease. I’ve had the honor of leading 150 kids from around the world to storm Capitol Hill as ChairMom of JDRF’s Children’s Congress, and I’ve been lucky enough to fight battles for funding and coverage that have not only been won, but done good for our community. I keep my mind open, learning and studying constantly to stay on top of what is happening as more to the point—what needs to happen.
Because there’s so much more to do. That little girl is now a successful and healthy adult making her way in Washington DC. She’s thriving. But she still – albeit quietly – drags along the anchor of diabetes. Fights with insurance. Stress about being able to afford the tools and meds she needs to simply stay alive. Lows on the Metro. Highs just before a big presentation. She blends it all into life in a way that’s makes it look seamless to most. But I know: every person with diabetes fights an hourly battle that needs to be won once and for all.
That’s why I am thrilled to be joining DPAC to continue honing my skills with those two basic tools – my brain and my voice – to fight for better not just for her, but for all. If a six year old got that so clearly, so too can I.
Moira McCarthy Stanford
Moira McCarthy has been an active advocate in the diabetes space since shortly after her then six-year- old daughter, Lauren Stanford, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1997. Since they she has served as National Chair of Grass Roots Advocacy for JDRF, ChairMom of JDRF’s Children’s Congress, and was named JDRF International Volunteer of the Year in 2007, much for her work on Capitol Hill.
She has also served on the board of the Barton Center for Diabetes Education, the Diabetes Education Camp Association, and as Chairman of the Board of the Diabetes Scholars Foundation. She speaks nationally and internationally on family diabetes topics, and is the author of numerous books on the topic. She lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts with her husband, Sean, and is an avid skier, tennis player, runner and grandmother.