Oprah Winfrey once said, “Each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint—and the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.”
For me that personal calling is with outreach and community-service projects that empower individuals with knowledge and resources for better health care. Through the American Diabetes Association I have been able to equip thousands of individuals with information to help them to better understand and take control of their diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association estimates that nearly 24 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes, and an additional 57 million Americans are at risk for developing the disease. I’ve witnessed this first-hand, with family members and in my career, the physical and mental damage caused by a disease that so many people with the disease took lightly. Has anyone ever said to you, “Oh, honey I only have a touch of diabetes; ” or “ I don’t have the bad kind of sugar”?
Many individuals take their disease lightly and often end up with -blindness, amputations, kidney disease, stroke or heart disease. These are devastating complications of diabetes that may have been avoided or delayed if they had access to adequate information, education and healthcare resources.
More and more people are without healthcare because America’s healthcare system is broken and resources are fragmented or no longer available. For many years, I have been readily involved with the American Diabetes Association—an organization that offers services to the community and fills the gap with reliable information and educational tools about diabetes.
The ADA offers community outreach programs that have allowed me as a volunteer to educate and give tools to thousands of Americans in my community living with diabetes. So at my next diabetes lecture, health fair, church presentation, interview, or gathering at a family reunion—I will reach one person with information that will make a difference in their life and empower them to take control of their diabetes.
Helping people and their families to live with diabetes and providing accurate and updated information about the disease is only one of the ADA’s missions. The ADA is also actively involved in finding a cure for the disease and each year gives institutions millions of dollars for research.
November is American Diabetes Month and this year the ADA is launching a national movement to Stop Diabetes—the goal is to help us “confront it, fight it and most importantly, stop it.” The ADA is taking this campaign to communities across the America. It’s just one more step in the organization’s tireless effort to stop diabetes. Here are six things you can do to join the fight:
Learn about the symptoms of diabetes and become familiar with terms commonly used when discussing diabetes—www.diabetes.org .
Take the Diabetes Risk Test—3.7 million or 14.7 percent of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes.
Get involved in your local ADA chapter and participate in an event.
Make a donation. The gift you make to the ADA today will help discover new ways to detect, treat, and cure diabetes.
Vanessa Jones Briscoe, PhD, NP, CDE, is a research assistant professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University Department of Medicine in the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism