Advocacy Blog

Meet Amanda, one of our summer Advocacy interns!

Hi, all! I’m Amanda Bethel, and I’m a Metro-Detroit native pursuing my BA in Political Science/Pre-Law at Michigan State University. My blood runs green for my school – but with a little extra sugar. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) during my sophomore year of high school, following a scary transition from being an active long-distance track runner to becoming a person who couldn’t make it a quarter-mile without complaining of lethargy and dehydration.

The weeks leading up to my diagnosis were filled with massive water bottles, excessive bathroom breaks, and extra snacks to get me through the day. These habits were often brushed off and blamed on my strenuous workouts at after-school practices. It wasn’t until one day that a family friend noted my rapid weight loss and my parents took me straight to the doctor. My diagnosis was a huge shock because I am the only person with T1D in my family. However, I am proud to tell you I missed one day of school and one track meet, and was able to go right back to business as usual. Just maybe with a new ‘usual.’

Amanda and her mother after finishing a half-marathon together in 2015.

Amanda and her mother after finishing a half-marathon together in 2015.

Since my diagnosis, athleticism and working out have always been an important aspect of my life. To most people dealing with diabetes, a simple jog around the block could require detailed preparation, or, it may turn out to be a wish for low-blood sugar.  As an athlete who is always physically active, I am very aware of the dangers of going too high or going to low.  I have since developed methods of planning so the thought of going too low doesn’t ever overwhelm my desire to go out and run.  I have come to terms with my need for planning, and can continue my lifestyle of doing what I love all at the same time.

However, with this self-management comes some unfortunate boundaries. Despite being part of a hard-working family with (fortunately) wonderful healthcare coverage, I am still a bit annoyed each time by the shocked look on any pharmacist’s face when he/she asks me if I am aware of my (outrageous) co-pay. In my head as well as in my gut, I know that there has to be something we can do to help out those struggling to pay for their diabetes supplies. With this in mind, I want to continue working on improving accessibility and affordability of all-things-diabetes, so that all those affected by T1D can decide how they should best manage their condition without the ever-looming burden of cost in mind. Following graduation I plan to attend law school with an interest in health policy – and I hope to one day lend my legal expertise to continue advocating for patients with specific healthcare needs, in order to improve their quality of life.

Amanda and her fellow summer interns outside the U.S. Capitol.

Amanda and her fellow summer interns outside the U.S. Capitol.

I also want to be there every step of the way to ensure that change is soon to come for them. This is what led me to find the internship program at JDRF Advocacy here in Washington, D.C. I am a person with diabetes, and there is nothing that will change that right now. I came to JDRF looking to help others understand the disease and also to advocate for a cure. I want to ensure that every effort I have made here will ultimately have a positive impact upon the legislative process – by personally advocating for T1D awareness, and ultimately a cure.

As a summer intern in the JDRF Advocacy office here in our nation’s capital, I am over the moon to see the work in progress being made here first-hand, and even be more hands-on myself. Within my first week here in the office, I saw a major fundraising event and a JDRF One Walk on the National Mall, which is awe-inspiring to say the least. Two weeks later I was able to contribute to JDRF 2016 OneConference in an effort made toward a hopeful 2017 renewal of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) and to lobby up on the Hill for Medicare coverage of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs). As my time here begins to come to a close this summer, I am elated with the professional and legislative skills I’ll have developed in just a little over two months. I am humbled to be immersed in such a supportive and encouraging environment of hard-working individuals who are ALL IN  toward the one goal of JDRF, and that’s advocating for a cure.

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