What is Diabetes: A Museum with Meaning

In my first week as the new summer student at Banting House National Historic Site of Canada, I was surprised by how little I knew about diabetes. I had a general understanding of what it was and because it did not affect me personally, that was all I remembered.

What little I know (thanks to high school biology classes) is there are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. But what is the difference? Here is what I learned this week:

Type 1 usually develops in childhood or adolescence and affects approximately 10% of people who are affected by diabetes. Those who have Type 1 diabetes, have an immune system that attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This means that they will have to take insulin injections for the rest of their life to help control their blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas loses the ability to produce and release the insulin to break down sugars. Their bodies also become resistant to insulin and their blood sugars need help to control it. Those who have Type 2 generally manager their diabetes with either diet and exercise or medication.

As I wandered through the museum, I realized that I had stepped into a world bigger than I imagined it would be. Banting House tells more than just the story of Sir Frederick Banting and his discovery of insulin. It also tells the stories of the many who live with diabetes, whose family and friends have diabetes and of those who want to learn more about diabetes.

I have been here for one week and already I have met many incredible people who have amazing stories! More stories to come soon!

Did You Know??

The pancreas is a small, 6-inch long organ located behind the stomach!

Can you find it in the picture above?

To learn more about diabetes, visit our website!!


This post was written by Jessica Baptista, Museum Interpreter at Banting House NHSC. Jessica recently graduated with a B.A.H. in History from Queen’s University and is currently pursuing her Masters of Museum Studies graduate degree from the University of Toronto.

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