The Challenge Diabetes Program (CDP) was created by Chet Galaska, who has had type 1 diabetes since 1981. He realized how little people know about diabetes and wrote The Diabetes Book: What Everyone Should Know to share the facts with diabetics and non-diabetics alike.
For over thirty years he kept his disease to himself, telling only those very close to him about it. This changed when he started researching the book and found that other diabetics also avoided discussing diabetes to avoid being stigmatized. Keeping it private meant that we didn’t have peer support and often believed that we alone struggled to manage blood glucose levels. This contributed to feelings of failure on top of the shame many felt because they believed they brought the disease on themselves.
Reluctance to talk about diabetes also meant that friends and relatives were left to believe falsehoods that reinforced the blame because they were never given the information to know better. Uninformed people cannot know how relentless, unpredictable and difficult this disease is.
The book inspired the Challenge Diabetes Program. CDP focuses on rubber-hits-the-road aspects of the disease, suggests immediately usable strategies and sheds the unjustified guilt and shame many diabetics carry.
Diabetics often have misgivings about health care professionals, so CDP is taught by knowledgeable diabetics who are usually not medical people. The rapport and trust this inspires is a key to its effectiveness.
The program explains why professional medical help is essential and encourages participants to seek it. It also welcomes everyone -diabetic or not- to learn about the disease and create an environment that respects those who fight it.