For over 17 seasons, S. Epatha Merkerson has played the role of Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on the long running series, Law & Order, garnering multiple NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2006, 2010 and 2011) and she has also won a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Obie Award throughout her long career.
She also has the distinction of her character, Anita Van Buren, being the longest-running, Black character in the history of prime time television. But, her latest role is that of an advocate of anything having to do with the disease diabetes. In this role, she has teamed up with Merck and the program, America’s Diabetes Challenge, to help educate people on how they can cope with the dreaded disease.
BlackEnteprise.com: Could you give the Black Enterprise audience some tips on how to better manage their blood sugar and/or how to better cope with the disease?
S. Epatha Merkerson: First of all, I encourage everyone to know their A1C and to talk to their doctor about setting and attaining their own blood sugar goals. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to diabetes management, so work with your doctor to come up with an individualized treatment plan.
When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I didn’t know that high blood sugar levels over time can lead to serious long-term health problems such as blindness, amputation, heart disease and stroke. Lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, and medication, when prescribed, are all important to help you get to your blood sugar goals.
Also, keep in mind that diabetes is a progressive disease and sometimes changes in medication may be needed. If your doctor decides it is time to change your medication, it doesn’t mean you haven’t tried hard enough – many people need to adjust their treatment plan over time to help them reach their blood sugar goals.
Through America’s Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals program, I want to encourage people living with type 2 diabetes to know the importance of their A1C, and I encourage you to make the pledge to work with your doctor to come up with an individualized treatment plan that is right for you.
You can go to AmericasDiabetesChallenge.com and pledge to know your A1C and to talk to your doctor about a plan to reach your A1C goal. You can also visit Facebook.com/AmericasDiabetesChallenge to find more information about the program and to download resources about type 2 diabetes management, including tools to help people with type 2 diabetes track their A1C goal and also includes questions they can ask their doctor.