(my son Warren Jr. the year before he died.)

More African Americans are dying from diabetes than ever before. I know first hand about this one, because my 23 year old son succumbed to the ravages of the disease in 2005.

There are facts and statistics out there that would probably bore most of us to death. But, the reality is, diabetes is like a cancer once it gets out of control. Attacking your major organs enough so that it becomes painful to live.

My son had been diabetic since he was nine months old, and receiving two shots of insulin per day. In the beginning doctors said he would not live past age 15, partly because he was the youngest diabetic they had ever diagnosed. So, for him to defeat that medical prophecy was a blessing from God.

However, if you are or know someone in your family who is diabetic, then try to support them. Help them to learn about their disease. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about diabetes, the better off you are.

Learn about healthy eating, and balancing carbs, fruits, vegetables and meat intakes. Make sure your loved one is testing their blood glucose levels regularly. I used to tell my son all the time that testing your blood is the only way to know how your body is truly doing.

Try to learn the signs of low blood sugars versus high blood sugars. Both can be fatal or physically damaging. Sometimes showing interest in the diabetic is difficult, partly because a person with a life changing disease is sometimes angry and resentful. Don't let that stop you. Continue to love them and support that person as much as you can.

According to a 2006 report published by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. It affects about 3.2 million or 13% of the African American population. The federal government spent $80 billion in 2005 just to treat patients with the disease and its complications.

Get involved. Encourage your loved one(s) to attend diabetic support meetings and outings. There are annual walk-a-thons for diabetes each year. Check with your local Juvenile Diabetes or American Diabetes Association for more details.

Remember, inactivity, obesity and poor nutrition can put anyone on the path to a debilitating disease.


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