Dear Joe –
My name is Kelly Kunik, and I'm a person with type 1 diabetes,who is a Diabetes Blogger/ Advocate & Living with Diabetes expert.
I’m also the daughter, sister, niece, aunt, & friend of many people with diabetes.
I’m writing to let you know that I (and tens of thousands of other) found the post that was published in the November 5th, 2010 edition of The Onion and titled: Group of Children with Diabetes All Die One Day After hearing Jay Cutler Speak;
offensive, unfunny, disgusting, and insensitive on every level imaginable.
Yeah, BIG MISTAKE & MAJOR FAIL.
It takes a lot to offend me, because honestly, my humor runs along the lines of that of a 14 year old boy most of the time.
And while I’ve often laughed (and tweeted and facebooked) your editorials in the past because I've always been an Onion fan - this post is not funny on any level.
I use humor to handle everything in life, including my own diabetes, but your post made me so angry that I could barely speak, let alone type.
To put it bluntly: WHAT THE HELL POSSESSED YOU TO PUBLISH THAT PIECE OF TRASH!
Seriously Joe, do you have any idea what it actually feels to lose a loved one to diabetes? Do you have a clue as to how many people in the world have lost loved ones to diabetes? Yeah, I didn’t think so. So how the hell do you have the nerve to joke about that, let alone put it in print?
Forget for a moment that November is National Diabetes Month, and November 14th is World Diabetes Day, and that many of us in the Diabetes On-line community (and off) use this month, (not to mention the other 11) to teach others about diabetes. We spend 365 days a year busting diabetes myths that perpetuate diabetes stereotypes, and donate millions to find a cure. We never get a vacation from diabetes, or time off for good behavior. And we never, ever get a break from people who only believe the diabetes stereotypes.
Forget the fact that losing someone you love to a disease is hard enough, but losing someone you love to a disease that is both misunderstood & is often the butt of jokes is horrible on levels you can’t even begin to imagine.
And forget the fact that it wasn't even a funny article, diabetes or not!
Are you aware that people often blame the person with diabetes for their disease, instead of blaming diabetes?
And did you know that blaming the person with diabetes often results in not only PWDS (person (s) with diabetes) blaming themselves?
And that John and Jane Q. Public putting the blaming o n those with diabetes directly affects diabetes fundraising efforts bottom line?
No, of course you didn't!
Here’s the thing, I don’t find anyone dying from diabetes funny, children or otherwise.
In part because I am a person with type 1 diabetes and lost my father, sister & two aunts to type 1 diabetes.
In part because I have also lost friends to diabetes, and I have friends who have lost their young children and other family members to both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
And they aren’t laughing at all Joe, not one bit! Their worlds are rocked and the pain of their loss is their constant shadow and companion.
And the siblings of children and adults who die from diabetes, well they aren't laughing either Joe.
There's a hole in their heart that can never be filled and their burden is heavy.
Like Atlas, the siblings who have lost a brother or sister to diabetes carry the weight of their loss and their parents grief on their shoulders.
Joe, did you know that parents of children with diabetes don’t sleep most nights, because they get up to take their child’s blood sugars every 2 or 3 hours around the clock? Yep, true fact. These parents are meticulous when it comes to food, insulin, meds, gluten free options, and the likes there of.
They become diabetes strategists and warriors, as do their children.
The say no to their children when they really want to say yes, but can’t.
Parents of children with diabetes spend a lot of time worrying about their children.
And children with diabetes spend a lot of time worrying about the effects that their disease has on not just themselves, but their parents.
We see our parents worry and we worry for them. We see them get angry at the disease, and some times we miss interpret that anger towards diabetes, as them being angry with us.
And we try to ease their pain, as well as our own.
Personally, my own father never got over losing my sister. Her death became his before and after mark for everything else that happened in his life. And I believe that watching her die took years of his life and my mom's.
And 20 years after the fact, my mom has told me time and again, that there’s not a day that goes by that she doesn’t think about my sister and that she misses her so much that her heart actually hurts -and "that you never get over the loss of a child.'
So yes Joe, as much as I love to laugh and joke about diabetes and do so every chance I get -
I find nothing funny about joking about children with diabetes dying.
Especially since our diabetes on-line community has lost one adult and three thirteen-year-old children to dead-in bed –syndrome since February 2010, with the the most recent child passing away two weeks ago.
So The Onion’s post not only sucks and is hurtful, but your timing is shitty!
A friend of mine who is one of the funniest guys I know, said it best this past Friday, when he wrote to tell me that a person he worked with, had just lost his 41 year old wife that afternoon to type 1 diabetes complications: “ Kelly, I don't think I ever looked at diabetes as being a disease that had the ability to end a life so quickly. I'm sorry for my ignorance.”
His words from the heart spoke volumes.
Next time, before you and your staff at The Onion go for the cheap, death from diabetes joke, take the time to actually learn the facts about the disease and the people with diabetes that you are raking over the coals.
Type 1 Diabetic 33yrs