By Jahna Houston
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes eighteen years ago in my 50s. It was surreal. For several years, I watched mom deal with her late-age diabetes diagnosis and I knew how I wanted to handle mine differently while supporting her. Unbelievably, her passing in fall 2019 at age 93 was NOT due to complications of diabetes directly. She was insulin dependent and worked hard to bring her A1C down from 8.1 to 5.8 over a seven-year period. I had always thought that diabetes was a sentence to forbidden foods, possible amputations, blindness, even death. I’m a passionate advocate, especially for the BIPOC and senior-aged communities, because I know now that having diabetes is not the end, but the beginning of lifestyle that leads to quality and longevity of life. I have never been prescribed insulin. But I have been able to, in the past 10 months, bring my own A1C down from 8.2 to 6.1 with a goal of 5.8. As an advocate for others, I am working to keep my numbers where they need to be with a weekly injectable medication regiment, moderate exercise, and nutritional changes.
Because of the fundraising events, ongoing research, and community outreach from the American Diabetes Association, we who live with diabetes have new hope—not stigmas and misinformation. I am an advocate who believes that if I control diabetes in my own life, I can fight better on behalf of others to stop diabetes in our lifetime! I am committed to being an active #ADVOCATE4LIFE, #CONNECTEDFORLIFE, inspiring others to support us in that effort, not because now 37+ million people in the United States live diabetes, but because in addition to myself, I know some of them personally.
Jahna Houston is a married stepmom of one and nana of six, who has been an active member of the ADA’s Step out Walk to Stop Diabetes® planning committee for Southern California since 2009. She also serves as the Congress at Home committee chair on the SoCal ADA Advocacy team.