Name: Jennifer Atkins, age 40
Location: Folsom, Calif.
I have watched so many of my family members fight against diabetes. And now it’s my turn to stop it.
My parents both have type 2 diabetes. My mother, Stephanie Foote, is insulin dependent and has worked hard to keep her diabetes under control for almost 20 years. Type 2 runs heavily in her side of the family. My maternal grandmother, Julia Martinez, died from diabetes complications. And we discovered that of my grandmother’s 12 siblings, eight had diabetes. My mother’s siblings both have prediabetes, putting them at risk for type 2; they are committed to a life of healthful eating and exercise.
I am so thankful that my mother has had her uncles to talk with about her diabetes. They have been there and know exactly how she feels and how to encourage her. This has made a world of difference for her.
My father, David Foote, was diagnosed a few years ago with type 2 diabetes. His father also died from complications of diabetes. My parents live in Las Vegas and work together in managing their diabetes.
My husband, Rob, and I have been married 13 wonderful years. We have two beautiful children: Toby (10) and Naomi (4). I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes with my second pregnancy. I was 36, fit and healthy, and I have never struggled with my weight. So I know this is genetics at work.
Being surrounded by diabetes all my life, I had a lot of support with my gestational diabetes. Not just within the health care community, including a wonderful nutritionist, but also the loving support of my family. I took a short walk in their shoes.
Now 40, I know I have a high risk of developing type 2 someday, because of both my family history and my gestational diabetes. People of Hispanic heritage, like me, are at even higher risk. But I’m doing all I can to prevent or delay it. As I get older I will need to work harder at maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. I’ve never been an athlete or loved the gym, but I walk my dog each day and do light exercise.
I wish for a cure. I want health care professionals to partner with my children and me long before any of us develops prediabetes, because we have such high risk.
My son Toby asked me recently if I was going to have diabetes like his grandmother, my mother. I was truthful; I told him that it was likely, but I would try my hardest to avoid it for as long as I could.
Then he asked if HE would have it someday, too. My heart sank, knowing he and his sister are at risk for type 2. I encouraged him to continue to exercise and eat well his whole life. We know our enemy, and we are doing our best to prevent it.
Do you know YOUR risk for type 2 diabetes? March 24 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day®, so get ready to take the Diabetes Risk Test and share it with everyone you know. You will find this free test at diabetes.org/risktest2015 or by calling 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383). Take it. Share it. Step Out.