Media headlines on diabetes never fail to surprise and amuse… right?

You know, like the recent mass media stories on:

  • that koala in California using a continuous glucose monitor at the San Diego Zoo
  • fashion retailer American Eagle featuring people with various disabilities in their product modeling, including one young woman sporting a CGM and an insulin pump as she models a bra
  • international research that could someday lead to blood sugar-lowering coffee or other caffeinated beverages
  • the big Friends For Life conference in Orlando where thousands from the Diabetes Community gathered once again

Here’s our PWD (people with diabetes) take on those recent stories, in no particular order…


Diabetes and Undergarments!

Our Diabetes Community was abuzz after American Eagle Outfitters unveiled its latest line of Aerie brand bras, undies, and swimwear in its most inclusive campaign to date — featuring not only women of all shapes and sizes but also women living with various health conditions and disabilities. Photos for this new #AerieREAL product line debuted in early July, including images in which a woman is sporting an Animas insulin pump on her waistline and a Dexcom CGM on her arm (!), while others pose with crutches, a wheelchair, and even a colostomy bag.

This brings back memories of the circa-2014 #ShowMeYourPump movement, kicked off after T1D-peep Sierra Sandison wore her pump visibly in the swimsuit competition in which she was crowned Miss Idaho (and later voted as People’s Choice in the Miss America competition) that year.

The #AerieREAL ad went viral, with overwhelmingly positive responses from our D-community:

“This happened! Thank you American Eagle for recognizing that real people who wear diabetes tech also look AMAZING wearing boho racerback bralettes! #AEhasmybusiness #diabetes #peaceloveandlace

“Things I’ve never purchased: Aerie bras and underwear. Added to things I want to purchase. Most people don’t think about the impact that medical gear has on what you wear, but a lot of us live with that reality everyday. Mad props to American Eagle for highlighting this in their advertising!”

“It’s not every day that you happen to run across a T1D model while doing online shopping. Thanks to American Eagle for your inclusiveness!”

“Thissssss is amazing!!! To see what I wear on a daily basis being modeled is just incredible! American Eagle for the win!”

Way to go, American Eagle! For those who may have doubted they could reach their dreams or full potential due to diabetes, these public displays of diabetes (PDDs!) mean so much.


Quincy the Koala, Wearing a CGM

In case you missed it, there’s a Queensland koala named Quincy living at the San Diego Zoo who happens to have type 1 diabetes. Yep, apparently Quincy comes from the LA Zoo most recently and is one of the few of his kind to be officially diagnosed and on insulin injections. And in June, many media outlets were all over the story of how this furry friend is wearing a new Dexcom G6 CGM to help monitor glucose levels and assist the vets and zoo caretakers in managing the animal’s health.

Many folks see Quincy’s experience as helping to highlight the importance and benefit of CGM in people, and inspire more families to try out a CGM with their T1D kids.

Yet, not everyone sees it that way; some in the D-Community were taken aback that a zoo animal would get access to this important tool while so many people are struggling with access and affordability.


Well… we’re choosing to look at the bright side here, hoping this story can be used as a force of good. For example, the final graphs of this San Diego Union-Tribune story speak to that:

“The power of a koala as a diabetes ambassador struck (Dr. Athena) Philis-Tsimikas during a diabetes conference… After closing her presentation with a picture of Quincy, she heard from Ann Albright, a diabetes expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ‘She told me, ‘Athena, I had a koala (plush toy) growing up, and I have type 1 diabetes myself. ‘I think it could inspire a lot of kids.'”

Cheers to that sentiment, and to our D-peep koala Quincy!


Coffee-Sensing Cells to Lower Blood Sugar?

Imagine if we could have tiny designer cells inside our bodies that would release a medication to lower blood sugar whenever they sensed coffee or a caffeinated drink.

Well, that could someday be a reality, if you believe the reports about early diabetes research happening in Zurich, Switzerland: “No More Needles? Diabetics Could One Day Treat Themselves with a Cup of Coffee.” The full paper on this is published in the Nature magazine. 

Researchers there are studying a specialty line of cells that could be engineered to sense caffeine and, in response, produce a GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide 1) to lower blood sugars. These cells would be encapsulated into tiny beads about a half millimeter in diameter, made of a clinically-licensed algae hydrogel able to block the immune system’s attack response but release GLP-1 into the bloodstream. Apparently, the GLP-1 would be better for this than insulin because it doesn’t create risk of hypoglycemia by delivering too much insulin when the caffeine is detected.

In their research, the scientists tested out Nespresso capsules and standard types of coffee, including some specific brands bought from Starbucks.

But sorry, chocolate java lovers… Apparently chocolate drinks don’t have enough caffeine to trigger the BG-lowering effect.

OK, this may be a good spot to cue eye-rolls. Of course, we’re big fans of caffeinated drinks and have explored the Coffee and Diabetes Effect in the past. But chances are this research won’t get past rodent and animal studies or amount to anything more than a wishful-thinking headline… but we’ll keep our coffee mug clenching fingers crossed just in case 😉


Friends For Life Conference 2018

Meanwhile, not covered in mainstream media but a big deal in our community was this year’s Friends For Life conference in Orlando. We were sad not to be there in person, but enjoyed following the #FFLOrlando18 hashtag and the many posts our D-friends were sharing online.

We love how this conference is set up for longtime D-Community members as well as those new to the diabetes universe, with so many smiles and hugs — hey, “friends for life” — and lots of new products on display.

This year, one of the newsworthy items was a big update on the iLet bionic pancreas being developed by Beta Bionics at FFL — organized in large part because Children With Diabetes founding D-Dad Jeff Hitchcock in Ohio sits on the board of directors of this public benefit corporation.

It’s amazing that this is the 19th year since this annual conference got started, a spontaneous gathering led by Michigan D-Mom Laura Billetdeaux who shared her family’s plans to visit DisneyWorld in CWD online forums, which in the mid to late 90s was one of the first places where PWDs could connected in the still-young online community. Now, thousands attend each year.

One post about this conference that brought tears to our eyes was from North Carolina D-Mom Leigh Davis Fickling, who has a young daughter with T1D:

“This week. This conference. It’s not just about being in Orlando. It’s not about the 12-hour drive that we made to get down there or the fact that we saved for almost a year so that we could have fun while we attended the conference,” she wrote in a Facebook post (and agreed to share at the ‘Mine). “It’s about diabetes. It’s about looking like you have diabetes. It’s about owning it and never giving up. It’s about hugging and loving and laughing and crying. It’s about an 8-year-old who wonders what others must be seeing when they see all of that ‘stuff.’

“Thank you Jeff Hitchcock and Laura Billetdeaux. Thank you for creating such a wonderful safe place for all of us to share our diabetes. I know that you are tired. I know that your Board members are tired. I’m sure that the Staff members are probably icing their bodies and are tired, too. I’m so grateful for Children with Diabetes and for Friends for Life. All of your hard work is worth it. It’s worth it to me. And it’s worth it to my girl who wondered what diabetes looks like.”


For those who haven’t had the chance to go, we highly encourage you to check it out if possible. And if DisneyWorld in July isn’t on your teacup (so to speak), there are a handful of other FFL events scattered throughout the year around the US and other countries; see the full conference schedule at the CWD website.


Any other stories or happenings catching your eye this summer? Please let us know via email, Facebook or Twitter.