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Kingsport Diabetes Association works to support those living with diabetes

Amy Millhorn Leonard • Nov 27, 2018 at 4:30 PM

Presently, 26 million people - adults and children - are living with diabetes in the United States. Another 79 million Americans display symptoms of pre-diabetes and are at risk for acquiring diabetes type 2. Over 1.6 million people are newly diagnosed with diabetes every year. At this rate, by the year 2050, it is estimated that one out of every three Americans will have diabetes.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and Nov. 14 was World Diabetes Day.

The diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes is usually very scary with good reason. If left uncontrolled, diabetes can cause nerve damage, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, blindness and other health problems. The three main ways to help control diabetes are keeping blood A1C level under 7, lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and raising “good” HDL cholesterol through diet and exercise, and regularly checking blood pressure to maintain it at under 140/90. Unfortunately, if not controlled, diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States.

The good news is that with continuing diabetes education, proper diet, regular exercise, drug treatments and support, many individuals with diabetes can live fairly normal lives for a longer period of time.

Upon a new diagnosis, patients are referred to diabetes education classes to learn all about the disease. After classes, individuals may ask, “So what’s next? How do I actually live with diabetes?” While a doctor and medical staff can help with these questions, a person with diabetes needs ongoing support in dealing with this complicated disease.

Wouldn’t it be helpful to get to know others who have been living with diabetes, to learn about new treatments and get ongoing support and encouragement?

That is why the Kingsport Diabetes Association (KDA) was chartered in November 1981. For 37 years, the non-profit organization has been serving people with diabetes and their families throughout the Tri-Cities, Tennessee and Southwest Virginia region.

“Our goal is to help each other live longer and healthier lifestyles with diabetes,” declares KDA president Jim Smallwood.

Kingsport Diabetes Association meetings provide a support group setting, feature monthly speakers to talk about diabetes issues, and offer a friendly opportunity to ask questions while sharing diabetes-friendly recipe refreshments. David Thompson, newly-retired, 32-year CVS pharmacist, serves as the association's vice president.

“I have been a member for over 10 years and am happy to line up speakers and programs for the meetings which cover topics of concern like new drug therapies, insurance choices, coronary artery disease, nutrition, renal health, CPR/first aid and more,” declares David. He continues, “We are especially thankful to Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy at ETSU for their support and the speakers they have provided through the years.”

Need a little sunshine? Barbara Hudson is the designated “KDA Sunshine Lady.” Astoundingly, she has been living with Type 1 Diabetes for 67 years. As a long-time member and board director, Barbara shares her exuberance for living and inspiration at most every KDA meeting. Board director and refreshments chairperson Estelita Keller recently received the association’s “Jim & Rod Hill Service Award” in recognition of her service to Kingsport Diabetes Association. Kay Oney is the secretary and joined right after her diagnosis 30 years ago. Kay says, “I always learn something new at every meeting. It is interesting to meet people in the same boat I’m in and gives me an extended support system.”

The Kingsport Diabetes Association is looking for new members for this valuable support group and invites anyone with diabetes and their families to KDA meetings. They meet monthly every second Tuesday at 7 p.m. in building 2002, in conference room 203, at Indian Path Community Hospital campus in Kingsport. Annual membership dues are only $10, which includes a monthly newsletter compiled by the Bloomingdale Branch Library and an annual picnic.

KDA supports several other organizations like Children with Diabetes, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) including their annual One Walk, American Diabetes Association (ADA) and Tennessee Camp for Diabetic Children. Fundraising is done by donation or with projects like aluminum can recycling through Wise Recycling and ink jet cartridge recycling at Cartridge World, both in Kingsport, cell phone recycling and annual sales of sugar-free apple butter and diabetes cookbooks. Simply drop off cans and cartridges at those locations and ask that KDA receive funds for them. To donate cell phones, contact Kay at (423) 288-2052. Donations and memorial contributions can be mailed to KDA, P.O. Box 3952, Kingsport, TN 37664. Call (423) 416-3910 or visit www.kingsportdiabetes.org for more information.

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