Did you know the DiabetesMine team were secret artists, painting masterpieces with our lancets in our garage studios by night?

Yeah... April Fool's! Actually we've got, well... close to zilch artistic ability.

But our new friend Cathy Leamy in the Boston area is one of those people who REALLY has talent, and is using her comic-creating capabilities to raise awareness on important healthcare topics.

Cathy tells us she's been doing comics and cartoons for most of her life. She's actually a pretty big name on that drawing scene as part of the comics collective Boston Comics Roundtable, which brings cartoonists and writers from the Boston area together to share their work and collaborate on new ideas.

For the most part with her comics, Cathy's M.O. is to make her images edgy, designed to get people raising their eyebrows and talking.

Innovation 2015

She certainly accomplished that with the first diabetes-related comic of hers we ran into: "Diabetes Is After Your Dick" (about ED of course). Yes, that's what her comic is titled. So you may want to put your PG-13 goggles on before clicking over to view if any kiddos are around to see the screen.

Cathy created this especially for us PWDs of all genders to mark the day today:

Cathy Leamy Final April Fools D-Cartoon

Gotta love it!

When she's not cartooning, Cathy works as a web developer in healthcare IT. We chatted with her recently to learn how one gets into the game of healthcare comics (?)

 

DM) You've been in the comics business for a while. Did you always know you wanted to draw? And where can people see your work?

CL) I've been drawing cartoons since I was a little kid, and have lots of memories of doodling comics that explained things: a comic version of a book report, a comic intro to the World Health Organization back in high school, and so on. Much of my stuff can be found online at my site, MetroKitty, and that's where my autobiographical/humor minicomic Geraniums and Bacon is at.Cathy Leamy

But I've also done other projects that include the Craigslist-inspired "I Saw You...", the non-profit Friends of Lulu comic called The Girls' Guide to Guys' Stuff, as well as historical research and writing on the Marvel Comics collection about seven decades of women in those comics, "Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades."

How'd you get started doing all this healthcare drawing?

Professionally, I'm a web developer and am currently working on an electronic medical records application at Massachusetts General Hospital. I've been an independent cartoonist (on the side, not as a day job) for most of my life, doing fun little educational cartoon using humor and autobio comics. A few years back, I was inspired by comic-educator Marek Bennett to make GREENBLOODED, a mini-comic about eco-friendly feminine hygiene. Then in 2011, I attended the 2nd Comics and Medicine Conference in Chicago and it really lit a spark in me! Since then, I've been very active in using comics in health care. {Editor's Note: They have a conference for that?! Who knew?} 

Web development and healthcare IT... how'd you decide to make that your career path?

Strange luck, honestly! I majored in computer science in college because I had a lot of different interests, and computer skills could be applied to any of them. I've focused on web development because I like its outreach potential and the instant gratification (I can change a website and boom! The change is visible *right now!*). When I was on the hunt for a new job, one of my relatives who's a nurse suggested checking the local hospital listings. I never expected to develop such a passion for the field.

So this wasn't what you'd always planned on... what else did you have in mind?

Actually, I used to be a competitive ballroom dancer! My college had a competition team, and the collegiate circuit was really vibrant at the time (and still is, as far as I know). I don't dance as much as I'd like to these days, but man, I still can't help but hear songs and think things like, That's a great fox trot!

About your comic focused on erectile dysfunction... how'd you come up with that as a topic?

I didn't know about the diabetes/erectile dysfunction connection until I randomly read about it on a blog post when I was searching the web for details on sex while wearing insulin pumps! I mentioned it to guy friends of mine and we all laughed that if you stressed this complication to men, most of them would *immediately* start caring about diabetes and taking care of their health. We shared a laugh, and one friend suggested making a humor comic about it, so I ran with the idea. Sure, it's very "in your face," but that's the point - to get people thinking and talking about the topic.

 

I actually presented on this comic at the 2012 Comics and Medicine Conference on a panel about patient education. You can see the 20-minute talk here (audio with Powerpoint slides, though they show an earlier draft of the comic).

You're drawing more about diabetes these days... do you have any personal D-connection?

I don't have diabetes myself, but I have quite a few relatives who are PWDs with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. As a result, diabetes has been on my radar for years -- I tend to read up on it a lot, talk with friends about it, and try to raise awareness.

Currently, I'm collaborating on webcomics for Diabetes Views, the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Education blog. My comics at this point are more about general healthcare and wellness, and apply to anyone. My latest one about exercise and excuses can be found here!

What's the feedback been like so far on your comics?

The reaction has been really positive! People get a kick out of the fun style and the sense of humor. Healthcare providers immediately recognize the potential for reaching out to patients in an unusual way (and to patients of different literacy levels, too). The whole pursuit is still pretty experimental, though. I'd really like to see more research done to establish solid evidence of comics as a useful teaching tool for all ages of patients, adults and kids alike.

My hopes for these medical comics are about sharing and connecting: Learning things and spreading them to wider audiences, taking a message and being the conduit that gets it into the right people's hands, making information funny and memorable so it engages people positively without fostering guilt or shame, and maybe most of all, helping people feel less alone through depictions of characters just like them.

We love what you're doing, Cathy, and that's no joke!  We'll be on the lookout for your comics around the healthcare world.

 
Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.