JDRF Canada recognizes #BellLetsTalk

January 27, 2021

Every year, Bell runs its #BellLetsTalk campaign, in an effort to raise awareness and combat stigma surrounding mental illness in Canada.

Living with T1D, whether it’s you, your child, or another family member, both at the time of diagnosis and throughout managing this chronic condition —affects more than just physical health. T1D can also impact social, behavioral and emotional well-being, known as psychosocial health. Mental health issues are common for people with T1D, at any age.

January 28, 2021 marks this year’s #BellLetsTalk day. This provides us the opportunity to talk freely and safely about mental health issues, and to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people living with T1D daily – and how JDRF Canada is looking to do more to address mental health in this community.

Life with T1D

T1D is an all-consuming chronic condition that currently has no cure. Once someone is diagnosed, disease management becomes a 24/7 task that lasts throughout a lifetime.

This means frequently checking blood sugar (at least 5-6 times daily), insulin doses that must be administered many times per day and calculated carefully based on food intake, exercise, stress, illness and other frequently unpredictable factors.

No matter how strict and careful someone is with their diabetes management, they likely will still experience frequent blood sugar highs and low – sometimes to dangerous levels.

T1D never gives you a day off. It can be exhausting. And it takes a toll on mental health.

How living with T1D can impact mental and psychosocial health

Throughout their lifetime, people with T1D often experience mental health issues that can include mild depression, major depressive disorder, anxiety, and “diabetes distress” – a term describing the powerlessness, stress, guilt, relentless worry and denial that comes with living with diabetes and the burden of self-management.

Compared to those without the condition, kids, adolescents and adults with diabetes are at greater risk of developing these mental health issues.

Yet despite this, and our growing understanding that unaddressed mental health issues correlate with higher HbA1c and higher risk of complications in people with T1D, management of T1D most often focuses on glucose control, without sufficient attention given to psychosocial health needs.

It can become a continuous cycle, so T1D management should include a holistic approach that ideally includes psychosocial health needs as well. However, psychosocial issues in T1D are under-researched and underappreciated, and our healthcare system does not currently have the capacity to fully address them.

What is JDRF Canada doing to help?

In January, 2021, JDRF Canada launched its $100 Million Campaign to Accelerate, which includes a six-pillar approach to funding research and other programs that accelerate towards cures and improving lives for people living with T1D today. One pillar of the campaign is dedicated to addressing mental health issues and expanding support to the T1D community.

As we work towards developing a more fulsome approach to mental health support within the T1D community and healthcare system, we are actively engaged in offering programs that help foster connection and support for people with T1D today.

From the day of diagnosis to daily life decades later, we know that connecting with others who have been impacted by T1D can be an important source of support.

Our Let’s Talk T1D series, which moved virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic, helps to make these connections.
In this series, we bring experts from across the country to you for virtual educational events and community hang outs to help you and your loved ones live well with T1D. Participants can hear from new speakers, engage with other families and individuals with T1D and expand their knowledge on important topics – all from the comfort of home.

Our Connection Series is a national conversation held virtually for adults and parents in the T1D community to form new connections and engage in conversations across province lines. These series aim to help parents develop relationships with their peers who may share similar experiences, and understand the ever-changing demands of living with T1D.

Talk T1D is a mentorship program that provides one-on-one support to families who are impacted by T1D from trained volunteers who have been there. Our volunteers understand the daily challenges of living with T1D and are there to provide emotional support and connect you with resources across Canada.

On #BellLetsTalk day, and every day, we recognize the need to reduce the stigma around mental health issues. When we reduce the psychosocial challenges of T1D, the result is better overall health outcomes for the T1D community.

Monsters Are Real

January 21, 2021

For those of you who live with type 1 diabetes (T1D) or have a loved one who does, you know that T1D can feel like a monster that impacts every aspect of your life.

The discovery of the insulin hormone 100 years ago helped to tame the monster, but it’s always there; spoiling even the simplest moments in life. To mark insulin’s centenary, JDRF has been working tirelessly on a bold and innovative plan to defeat the T1D monster, once and for all.

T1D affects every aspect of life. It comes with health implications, an economic burden to families and governments with expensive treatment costs and the psychosocial effects of living with a chronic illness that impacts every decision a person makes throughout their day.

2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin and to mark this important milestone, JDRF Canada, the largest charitable funder of T1D research in Canada, is pleased to announce the launch of our $100M Campaign to Accelerate. This bold and innovative fundraising initiative aims to accelerate T1D research to move beyond insulin, build upon a long legacy of outstanding Canadian diabetes research, and accelerate towards cures while also improving the lives of those living with T1D.

“Lots of children are afraid of monsters, but only some have actually experienced one – like my son. He lives with type 1 diabetes, a relentless monster that is always there, ready to pounce – whether he is enjoying a snack or playing with friends. We must constantly be on high alert. The Campaign to Accelerate is putting a multi-faceted plan in place that can attack this monster from every angle, and we are inviting all Canadians to help us in accelerating the pace of type 1 diabetes research.”

 Ryan MacDonald, Campaign to Accelerate, Campaign Co-Chair.

The Campaign to Accelerate will focus on six key pillars that aim to help improve the quality of life for people living with T1D today and create a future without type 1 diabetes.

  • The JDRF-CIHR Partnership to Defeat Diabetes – by accelerating the pace of Canadian T1D research breakthroughs
  • High-Impact Global Research – collaborating with researchers across the globe on research trials and projects
  • JDRF Centre of Excellence at the University of British Columbia – launching the first JDRF Centre of Excellence in Canada, focused on cure research
  • The T1D Fund – promoting investment in commercial development of new T1D drugs and devices through venture philanthropy
  • #AccessForAll – advocating with Canadians living with T1D to ensure more access to affordable and lifesaving technology 
  • Mental Health – expanding mental health supports for those living with T1D

“The launch of our $100M Campaign to Accelerate is monumental in the lives of Canadians living with type 1 diabetes. While the discovery of insulin in Canada 100 years ago saved millions of lives, it is still not a cure. It is fitting that now is the time to map out the next era of discovery in type 1 diabetes research. Through our Campaign to Accelerate, we will transform our approach to research, redesigning it for speed to give Canadians hope for freedom from type 1 diabetes.”

 Dave Prowten, President and CEO, JDRF Canada.

The Campaign to Accelerate will rally volunteers from coast to coast to invest $100 million over the next five years to bring life-changing therapies to patients and families faster and ensure that Canadians living with T1D have better access to lifesaving technology and mental health support.

“As a parent of a 40-year-old daughter living with type 1 diabetes, there is nothing harder than watching your child struggle with this relentless monster that requires multiple, daily injections just to temporarily fend it off. One hundred years ago, we found a way to tame this monster with the discovery of insulin. Now it is time for us to defeat it for good and the Campaign to Accelerate, coupled with philanthropic support from Canadians, will get us there quicker.”

 Peter Oliver, Campaign to Accelerate, Campaign Co-Chair

To learn more about the $100M Campaign to Accelerate, visit jdrf.ca/accelerate.

Simplifying insulin management and delivery

Sponsored by Omnipod

For years, Rebecca Redmond’s mantra was to “stick to the devil you know” when managing her type 1 diabetes (T1D). That meant injecting herself with insulin numerous times a day, even after developing a phobia of needles, resulting in debilitating anxiety attacks and sometimes even forgoing meals.

“It wasn’t until my son said, ‘If there’s a simpler way to do this or a way that wouldn’t be so hard on you, shouldn’t you do it?’ Kids have a funny way of motivating,” Redmond says of her decision to switch to Insulet Canada’s Omnipod® Insulin Management System two years ago.

The wearable, waterproof* pump – called a Pod – freed her from the injections she had been giving herself since being diagnosed with T1D in 1989 at the age of 17. “It totally changed my life,” the London, Ont. artist and blogger says. “I can switch my insulin pump out faster than I could ever give myself an injection, so it has given me the gift of time. It has also given me mental freedom because I’m not giving in to those fears of doing my needles.”

The innovative technology has special meaning to Redmond, whose grandmother’s cousin, Sir Frederick Banting, co-discovered insulin and was the first to use it on people to treat diabetes.

As this year marks the centenary of the discovery of insulin, she celebrates the advancements in life-saving technology for insulin delivery making it available for people like her who need it to survive.  “Without my cousin’s discovery, I wouldn’t be alive today,” she says.

The Pod has had such a positive impact on her life, Redmond is excited to be among the first in Canada to adopt the new Omnipod DASH® Insulin Management System, which recently earned Health Canada’s approval. It provides up to three days of non-stop insulin** delivery and combines the Pod with a Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM).

“This means users can tailor their insulin needs much more precisely now,” Hulton says. The Pod can be worn almost anywhere you’d give yourself an injection and the Pod site tracker helps you rotate your pod sites to make insulin absorption more effective.

“The DASH System is the next step in our mission to make diabetes a smaller part of your life by simplifying insulin management,” says Hulton.

Insulet Canada is launching the Omnipod DASH System on a province-by-province basis throughout 2021 to coincide with reimbursement by provincial health programs. Visit www.omnipod.com for more information.

*The Pod has an IP28 waterproof  rating for up to 7.6 meters for 60 minutes. The Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM) is not waterproof.
**Up to 72 hours of insulin delivery
©2020 Insulet Corporation. Omnipod, the Omnipod logo, DASH, the DASH logo, Simplify Life, and Podder are trademarks or registered trademarks of Insulet Corporation. All rights reserved. The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are registered trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use of such marks by Insulet Corporation is under license. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. The use of third-party trademarks does not constitute an endorsement or imply a relationship or other affiliation.
Disclaimer: This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of JDRF.

Your fundraising dollars at work

2020 was a year of challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the disruption to our normal way of doing things, thanks to your support, our JDRF-funded research was able to progress and produce some exciting new developments.

As 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, at JDRF we are moving into the next phase of our research strategy, transforming our approach and redesigning it for speed to give Canadians hope for freedom from type 1 diabetes (T1D).. With your help, we are building upon the Canadian legacy of Banting and Best to push aggressively towards cures; while supporting the vital research and programs that improve the lives of those living with T1D. To learn more about our bold and innovative $100M Campaign to Accelerate that aims to defeat the T1D monster that burdens 300,000 Canadians, go to Jdrf.ca/accelerate

Some highlights of the new initiatives we’ve been able to support over 2020:

Dr. Ahmad Haidar, Assistant Professor at McGill University in Montreal, QC 

Dr. Haidar is testing whether adding a hormone called pramlintide to insulin therapy can eliminate the need for carb counting in teenagers and adults with type 1 diabetes (T1D) using a closed-loop system.

Dr. Megan Levings, Professor, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia and an Investigator at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC

Dr. Levings is studying how the autoimmune response is curtailed by T1D therapies in clinical testing, and exploring new approaches to cure T1D by targeting the immune system.

Dr. Andrew Pepper, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, AB

Dr. Pepper’s work aims to advance an approach for long-lasting islet replacement therapy that will not require immunosuppression. Right now, islet replacement therapy is limited in scope to those who have very difficult-to-control T1D, who still stand to benefitfrom an islet trasnplant despite the risks of long-term immunosupression.

Watch a video about the 2020 research highlights:

For more information on our research strategy, please click here.

We will be providing research and other education updates in each issue of our bi-monthly T1D Insider Newsletter in 2021 as we mark this very important milestone of 100 years of insulin. Don’t forget to sign up to stay updated!

On behalf of the 300,000 Canadians living with T1D, thank you for supporting research that is bringing us closer to turning type one into type none.