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2016 Las Vegas Diabetes UnConference Recap

The Diabetes UnConference is an unstructured conference which was recently held in Las Vegas and allows those in attendance to create and moderate the agenda throughout the course of the event. Attendees can ask and answer questions and learn from their peers on such topics as diabetes burnout, depression, sex, discrimination, financial issues, getting inspired to exercise, family, or even what the best treatment for hypoglycemia is for each person. MiniMed Ambassador, Phyllis Kaplan, was fortunate enough to be able to make the trip to attend the event. Thank you Phyllis for sharing your experience at this event with the community.

I am recently home from attending my first Diabetes UnConference. This wasn’t my first diabetes conference but it was my first UnConference and I wasn’t sure what to expect. While there were some educational aspects, the focus of this event was on the daily struggles we all face with this disease.

The Diabetes UnConference (DunCon) is a conference for everyone touched by diabetes. Type does not matter. How many years someone has been living with diabetes does not matter. What matters is the desire to learn, share, grow, and be there to support each other. The other great thing about the DunCon is that they hold tight to “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Meaning that it’s a safe place to share, and what participants shared during the sessions won’t be shared elsewhere.

Collectively, the group has lived with diabetes for more than 2,500 years. Wow! The person sitting next to you could be newly diagnosed, or celebrating their 50th year with diabetes. Yet, everyone was able to share their point of view, their tips and tricks, and learn from each other. While we all have diabetes, we all handle it differently. It was powerful to be with people from all over the United States, and Canada, there for one reason. There were also “PLUs” in attendance – “People who Love Us” – sisters, parents, spouses, of people with diabetes (PWD). It was heartwarming to see so many supporters of people with diabetes attend as well.

To be honest I wasn’t sure what I’d come away with, having lived and thrived with diabetes for over 42 years. I learned that no matter how many years a person has had diabetes we all want the same thing: to be heard. Often people tell us what we should do or what to think, but it’s really important for us to be heard for what we are saying, without judgment and to be loved for the people we are. It’s easy for people with diabetes to be viewed first as a diabetic, but we are so much more. We are sisters, brothers, parents, aunts, uncles, colleagues and also have diabetes. And of course we all want a cure.

One of the sessions that I felt most moved by was the one on unspoken fears around diabetes. While I can’t go into details on what people spoke about I can say that for as many people who were there, there were an equal if not greater number of fears around diabetes. I shared with the group that I don’t really have fears around diabetes. Any complications that I have today are most likely due to something from my past and I can’t go back and fix that. I don’t live my life by the what-ifs of this disease, and have faith that when and if I experience complications I have faith in the medical community to help me through them.

As a MiniMed Ambassador, I was thrilled to see Medtronic Diabetes there as a sponsor and that they were active participants throughout the event.

Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in attending the next Diabetes UnConference in Atlantic City this fall, you can learn more and sign up for the event on The Diabetes UnConference website here.2016 Las Vegas Diabetes UnConference Recap | The LOOP Blog

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