Every other year the American Diabetes Association has an event called Call to Congress. Advocates with the group ask Congress members not to reduce funding for research and prevention of the seventh leading killer in the United States.
This year, members of the organization face a losing battle with across-the-board budget cuts.
Wednesday, advocates for diabetes research are meeting with senators in Washington, D.C., and one of them is a woman from the Kansas City metro. Marta Howell joins about 220 other American Diabetes Association advocates in our nation's capital.
"It's not going to be a walk in the park, and we can pretty much expect a lot of push-back from every single office that we go to," she said.
The advocates are asking for more than $3 billion to find a cure and advance treatments. The money would be split between Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Diabetes Prevention Program and the National Institute of Health to be used for research to find a cure and advance treatments for diabetes.
"It's critical that the funding continue so that research can advance medicine, not stall it or kill it, make it start all over again," Howell said. "So we want to keep the momentum going with the research."
Advocates said research over the past 10 years has made living with the disease more manageable.
"I remember back when I was a kid, monitoring your glucose levels on a daily basis was not an easy process. You had to keep your insulin refrigerated. Nowadays there are glucose pins you can carry in your pocket," she said.
But the sequester threatens the progress. The National Institute of Health, the primary federal agency for Diabetes research, will cut its budget by about $2.5 billion.
"I'm really hoping with the sequester that it's not going to cause harm to people that live with diabetes," Howell said.
According to the American Diabetes Association, about 26 million people are diagnosed with diabetes in the United States. These are frightening statistics for Howell because diabetes runs on both sides of her family.
"I'm hopeful that a cure is found someday," she said.
Howell encourages anyone affected by diabetes on a daily basis to contact their legislator. She said it's critical people's voices are heard.
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