Friday, July 17, 2015

The MasterLab experience, part one

If you read Medtronic's awesome blog, you'll see some of what my cohorts Charli, Phyllis and I submitted. Obviously, they couldn't include every single word we provided. So, for the first installment of my MasterLab experience series, here is all of the words I sent to Medtronic. And yes, I could totally rewrite them as a fresh new post but this is easier and in summer, easier is better. :) 
With one unexpected phone call from Naomi at Medtronic, I was suddenly making plans to attend the 2015 MasterLab in Orlando. Despite devouring everything I could find about MasterLab online and asking people on Twitter, I had absolutely no clue what to expect. I had no expectations of what I’d learn during the sessions. I also had no idea what it would be like to spend so much time with the two other ladies attending on behalf of Medtronic – Charli Guerin and Phyllis Kaplan – who I had never met before. The obvious fear was what if we didn’t get along at all. That concern flew out the window within seconds of meeting both of them. The fun we all had together, both in the sessions and in our spare time, was icing on the cake to this experience. 
Despite only being a day and a half, I’m still finding all of the information I walked away with to be slightly overwhelming.  Since returning home I often find myself reflecting on everything I learned and experienced. Each time it is a different memory and I find myself wanting to share it all with you. Unfortunately, posting a thousands and thousands of words for a blog post won’t quite work, so I’ve had to narrow it down to few things that stuck out the most to me. 
One of the speakers who stood out the most to me was Tom Boyer, director of government affairs at Novo Nordisk. The gist of his speech was about finding our voice in order to speak up for the diabetes community. This man has been heavily involved in diabetes advocacy efforts for decades. He shared how of the 1,800 advocates he trained in the 1980s, only three are still involved. As Mr. Boyer said, we’ve gone from setting the temperature to reading the temperature.  If we speak up and make our voices heard, we’ll go back to setting the temperature. 
Mr. Boyer shared a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote – “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Sure, MLK wasn’t speaking about diabetes but it is appropriate. It truly doesn’t matter how much or how loud we advocate, any advocacy effort will make a difference because we aren’t being silent. Going off of that, something the next speaker (Stacey Simms) said is important to remember as well. To paraphrase, as advocates we may not always have success and that is okay as long we do not give up. And Melissa Schooley of Medtronic reminded us advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint. 
Nearly every speaker mentioned how it truly doesn’t matter which type of diabetes we have, we’re all impacted by it and need to fight for better lives for all. It doesn’t matter which type because we all need access to the supplies needed to stay healthy. It makes me wonder how powerful could the diabetes community be if we raised our voices as one large, all-inclusive group instead of having friction between the types. 
Dr. Kenneth Moritsugu, former VP of global professional education & strategic relations at Johnson & Johnson’s Diabetes Solutions Companies, provided Tuesday’s closing keynote. He was such a dynamic speaker that I found myself not wanting his speech to end.  He reminded us to have a sense of clarity regarding our purpose and what we want to achieve as we go forward as advocates. Dr. Moritsugu urged us how we must get involved because we can no longer play spectator. What he said that stuck out the most to me though was how each of us is the human face of diabetes. Well, duh, obviously we are but how often do we forget that we are the face of diabetes? As a friend and I discussed diabetes and everything I had learned at MasterLab, they mentioned when they hear about diabetes, theur first thought is of me. As we advocate for diabetes, we need to make our faces seen. It makes diabetes so much more real to others who are not connected to diabetes. 
There are many more things I want to share from MasterLab. I know the videos will be posted eventually on YouTube (http://YouTube.com/diabeteshands) so make sure to watch them. I hope you’ll be as moved by the speakers and discussions as I was. Participating in MasterLab was an incredible experience. I was able to meet people who I’ve interacted with countless times on Twitter in person and people who are just as passionate, if not more so, about being diabetes advocates at this event. As I left MasterLab, I found myself thinking about how I could be a better advocate, how I could be more like those I met. I also left with a renewed spirit and belief that I can, even as one person, make a difference in regards to diabetes.
 And, for full disclosure, Medtronic paid for my airfare, lodging, meals and registration to participate in MasterLab. All the words written are my own and were not influenced by Medtronic. 

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