Learning To Deal With Diabetes

Published November 10, 2008

Posted Oct. 30, 2008 – Angie Stone experienced the unexpected at an amusement park a few years ago, and it had nothing to do with a new death-defying ride.

She simply had been going to the bathroom, a lot, on her way to the park. Then her legs cramped up and she could hardly walk. Little did she know that those symptoms would trigger a series of events that would change her life: After she had been given Gatorade, she was told to get checked for diabetes.

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“I was always on the go, and thought I was too busy to develop something like this,” Stone told BET.com  “I thought at the time that diabetes went along with bad habits, but I was the last one in my family to eat junk food.”

What the Grammy Award-winning singer didn’t realize was that she was a perfect candidate for diabetes: She had a family history of diabetes and was fighting weight problems.

“My mom was a diabetic. Her sister was a diabetic, so I was already a candidate,” said Stone, who has been living with diabetes for nearly a decade. Now, Stone has not only been working on ways to keep her own diabetes under control, but she has been helping others become aware of the disease.

Stone, who just finished work on a film, “The Pastor,” and is working on a book and a clothing line, is traveling to various communities as part of the F.A.C.E Diabetes program, which, sponsored by Eli Lilly, helps African Americans understand their risk for the disease and how to control it.

More than 20 million Americans suffer from diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. African Americans are 1.8 times more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic Whites, the association says.

Stone recalls how she felt when she first found out she was diabetic, and she hopes to help others avoid the “tears” and “fear” she felt. She admits that, at first, her new diabetes-fighting routine was a bit daunting.

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“I had to check my sugar every day,” she says. “All of that was out of the ordinary. It definitely changed my attitude. I cried a lot. I put up a pity party.”

But learning to cope with it, says the Celebrity Fit Club graduate, who has lost 30 pounds since being on the show two years ago, has improved her quality of life, she says.

Because the singer travels quite a bit, she does a lot of walking, the diabetes diagnosis made her a bit more deliberate about exercising, although she admits that she still doesn’t exercise as much as she should.

But she’s gotten good at managing the disease. She keeps track of how much sugar, salt and starch she eats, and makes healthier meal choices, eating more salads and baked, not fried, chicken and fish.

“I know my limits,” says the South Carolina native. “I am completely aware of situations that could raise my sugar. If I drink too much ice tea, I know that’s going to send me over the radar. I’m very careful about that.”

Because Black Americans are at greater risk for diabetes than other racial groups, Stone says, people have to make sure they get tested if they have a family history of the disease, and, if not, do what they can to reduce their risk.

“Diabetes is not a death sentence but a wakeup call,” Stone says. “We are prime candidates so we have to care enough about ourselves to look out for ourselves. We need to stop it before it gets started; once it does you’ve got a situation that is going to change the rest of your life.”

To watch Stone's video and learn more about fighting diabetes, go to Face Diabetes.com.

Written by BET-Staff

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