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Ben Vereen is taking a stand on diabetes awareness

By Stephanie Cary, Daily Breeze

940 days ago   Article ID# 1524609
Original URL

 

Taking Control of Your Diabetes

TORRANCE, CALIFORNIA (Daily Breeze) - Knowledge is power.

This is a lesson Tony Award-winning actor Ben Vereen says he learned the hard way.

It began in December 2007 when he passed out while giving a speech. His daughter rushed him to the hospital where he was kept overnight.

The next morning, Christmas Day, he received a gift that would change his life, though he didn't consider it as such at the time. He was diagnosed with diabetes.

"When I was diagnosed, I panicked like you would if someone told you that you had a seemingly debilitating disease," Vereen said.

"Once I went to my doctor I found out what I could do and got awareness about what all this is about - that Type 2 diabetes is not a threatening thing but a thing you can live with by changing your eating habits, by exercising and by taking your medication."

In retrospect, Vereen, 65, now a spokesman for diabetes awareness, says he should have seen it coming since he had symptoms associated with Type 2 diabetes, including dry mouth, increased urination and hunger. But he had been touring with his band for its show "Steppin' Out with Ben Vereen" so he attributed the dry mouth to him being a singer and consequently drinking more fluids, which he thought was leading to increased urination.

While he can see it now, he says at the time he was blind to what the symptoms of diabetes were, or really anything about the disease. And he's not alone.

In 2011, 25.8 million people in the U.S. were living with diabetes, of which 7 million were undiagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Many complications can arise when diabetes goes undiagnosed or untreated such as neuropathy, kidney disease, blindness, heart disease and stroke.

But when managed, people with diabetes can live full lives. Vereen even believes his life has gotten better since his disease was diagnosed.

"Now that I have awareness I'm having a wonderful life. I really am because knowledge is wisdom, wisdom is knowledge. And so when you know something, then you can do something about it," he said.

"I'm trying to change the dialogue about diabetes because when I hear people say, `Oh, you got that,' `Oh, you got that' - no. Yes I have diabetes, but I'm living with diabetes, I'm not suffering. I'm living because I'm doing what I'm supposed to do in counsel with my doctor. I don't have a challenge, I have an opportunity for a better life if I do the right things."

To help increase awareness about diabetes and managing the disease, Vereen has partnered with Taking Control of Your Diabetes - a nonprofit organization that aims to educate and motivate people with diabetes to take a more active role in their health.

Together they formed the movement Start Taking Action Now for Diabetes, or S.T.A.N.D., with support from Sanofi US, which encourages the public to think about diabetes by offering resources for individuals to educate themselves. On its website, www.standfordiabetes.org, there is a doctor forum where people can ask questions, as well as links to other diabetes resources.

Vereen is asking the public to go on the website and take the pledge that they will take control of their diabetes if they have it and that they will talk about it.

For him, knowledge was power that allowed him to regain control of his health and of his life, and he believes it can be the same for others.

"Get the knowledge. Get the wisdom. Get educated," Vereen said. "Go on the website and get educated. Go to other links and find out what you can about living with diabetes."

Copyright 2014 Daily Breeze   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 940 days ago   Article ID# 1524609

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