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Confronting diabetes’ dangers

Access Holiday

I am so thankful that “Today” was supportive of this diabetes story for so many reasons. My family and I have been dealing with this disease, since I was born. My father has had diabetes for over 40 years and, as a result, he has had countless brushes with death. My earliest memories, until recently, have been my family’s daily struggle to prevent him from falling into low blood sugar comas. Luckily, we were able to put my Dad in the hands of Dr. Anne Peters, who educated him and the rest of our family about proper treatment. Dr. Peters also put him on the mini-med pump. As a result, my Dad feels better than ever. Before he was sticking to such a strict diet that he avoided carbs altogether. I quickly realized that if we weren’t getting the right information, there were others out there who had worse experiences. That’s why I fought so hard to get this story out there. My Mom has dedicated her entire life to being my Dad’s nurse, nutritionist, and chef. And my Dad has dedicated himself to eliminating sugars from his diets — so much so that he even barely any ate bread or carbs. That was the biggest problem. His doctors weren’t telling him that he was supposed to count carbs, NOT CALORIES. Dr. Peters explained to me that doctors have less than seven minutes with patients nowadays and sometimes things fall through the cracks. How unfortunate that my dad went without pasta, bread, or any carbs for years because of this lack of knowledge. He is, and always has been, a very active man. But for a 6-feet tall man, he was eating under 2,000 calories a day. As a result, my Dad, who was always thin, was getting thinner.

I have Dr. Peters to thank for saving him. Now with the pump, my Dad had his first plate of macaroni and cheese in years — and loved it. When he confessed to me the other day that he had been hungry all the time, I was brought to tears. Now he says he’s always full. He eats potatoes, bread and pasta. He doesn’t overdo it, but he is disciplined. He now enjoys a more normal life, putting on much needed weight and keeping his diabetes stabilized!I thought that I was familiar with diabetes, but my family and I learned more through Dr. Peters, and her book, “Conquering Diabetes,”in the past few months than we had learned in my lifetime. Yet, my journey with diabetes, and my education process, still had such a long way to go. Last week, in a meeting with Judi Ketcik and Maurine Slutzky of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, I was horrified to learn that diabetes affects well over 230 million people around the world and that the disease is currently the fourth biggest cause of death! In some countries — those that lack proper treatment for the disease — sufferers can expect to live only one or two years. In America, diabetes is a major, and growing, health problem, and yet most Americans really don’t realize it is such a major concern. Some sufferers don’t even know they have it. Eighty percent of sufferers worldwide don’t realize they have it. I was at a wedding just last weekend and discovered that my friend, Mike, had type 2 diabetes for almost 10 years before he was diagnosed.

For all of these reasons, I’ve joined the Diabetes Aware campaign, with the Entertainment Industry Foundation and Novo Nordisk, to help families become more “Diabetes Aware.” We are asking people to go to to sign a petition to persuade the UN to focus more attention on serious global implications of diabetes and the need to tackle this epidemic. So if you’re reading this blog, I hope you’ll do just that.Our goal is to drive support for “UNite for Diabetes,” a global initiative led by the International Diabetes Federation, to move this debilitating disease to the forefront of the United Nations’ agenda in an effort to alert governments to the serious global implications of diabetes and the need to tackle the epidemic. The campaign is working globally to collect signatures for a UN Resolution to be presented on World Diabetes Day 2007. We plan to reach one billion people globally with messages about the importance of taking action to affect change.

I feel so blessed to still have my father despite all of our suffering. As result, my mother, father and I are now committed to raising diabetes awareness and to educating other sufferers.