Two years ago, Rosie Perez stared down the diabetes diagnosis many of us fear. But instead of backing down, Rosie took the bull by the horns and decided it was time to change her life. “In March 2009, prior to a surgical procedure, I was told that I was pre-diabetic. My father has had diabetes for over 28 years, and I knew this news would break his heart. All I could think about was all of the times he had told us, ‘I hope that none of my kids get diabetes,’” recalls Rosie. Rosie had struggled with her weight her entire life, but it was at that moment she decided to finally defeat “the beast.” She began a strict diet and exercise regime, is currently in her second year post-diagnosis and has lost 100 pounds. “The road has been long and hard, but I feel so much stronger, and best of all I am completely healthy and no longer pre-diabetic,” she says.
During her journey, Rosie decided to compete in a beauty pageant. The American Renaissance Pageant is a platform-based pageant that celebrates women who are involved in their communities and love life. The pageant takes place in Las Vegas every June. Rosie took home the tittle of of Ms. Texas Woman American Renaissance. She decided her platform needed to be something to do with health and wellness. It was while doing this research that she decided to get involved with the American Diabetes Step Out Walk. This year her goal is to raise $2,000 for the Step Out Walk. It has been such a wonderful experience, and this year Rosie was asked to be the co-director of media and publicity for the 2011 Step Out Walk. Her journey has now become a journey of education. “If we don’t educate our youth on the importance of diet and exercise, the obesity rate in South Texas could be almost 50 percent by the year 2020,” added Rosie.
Deirdre Murphy was tired of feeling exhausted all the time. So she visited her doctor, thinking she had a thyroid issue. “I was diagnosed in February 2001 at the age of 29 as a Type 2. At the time, given the lack of family history, my diabetes was attributed to my being significantly overweight and my bad eating habits.” Her doctor at the time prescribed Metformin and told Deirdre to lose the weight. So that is what she did. Deirdre took the Metformin and proceeded to lose 70 pounds. “I felt fine; I was no longer exhausted all the time, had more energy than I had in years. I was never educated any further about the symptoms and effects of high or low blood sugars. So five years later, in 2006, when I was thirsty all the time and going to the bathroom a whole lot, it did not click that it could be due to diabetes,” said Deirdre. She went to her local emergency room thinking she had the flu and was admitted almost immediately. Subsequently, she was rediagnosed as Type 1 diabetic and has been on insulin ever since.
“Exercise has become important to me as I strive to be healthy and living with diabetes instead of seeing it as a death sentence,” she says. In researching ways to be healthier, Deirdre discovered American Diabetes Association Step Out Walk. She set out two years ago with a goal of at least one 5K race/walk a month and has nearly accomplished her goal. “Since my diagnosis in 2006, I have done my best to fully educate myself on everything diabetes. I joined the ADA as a member so I would get advocacy updates and newsletters. I joined online discussion sites. In addition, I became a huge advocate for education for all. I firmly believe that the prevention of the rampant spread of this disease, especially here in San Antonio, is fully achievable,” added Deirdre.
“This year will be my fifth Step Out Walk. I have been a team captain each year. I figure that as a team captain with diabetes, I can make a bigger impact. I can sway people to come walk with me and donate because that personal connection to the cause exists. There are so many people who like myself go for years without realizing how sick they are because they are unaware of those signs. I also hope and pray for a cure and know that the work that the ADA is doing is making a difference!”
For more information about the American Diabetes Association Step Out Walk please visit www.diabetes.org/stepoutsanantonio