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National Diabetes Month shines spotlight on importance of education, support

By Carolyn Kimmel

Angie Evans knows the value of diabetes education firsthand because she’s seen it firsthand.

The Harrisburg resident watched her mother work to control her diabetes effectively and her sister stumble – and it’s a lesson she took to heart.

“As long as you are mindful about managing diabetes, you can live with it,” said Evans, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when she was in her mid-20s and with multiple sclerosis a decade later.

Evans is a “patient partner,” enrolled in patient-centered research studies at Penn State College of Medicine for more than four years – specifically one that looks at effectiveness of counseling in improving weight loss for adults with or at high risk for type 2 diabetes. The study is funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute*.

Her family history led her to get involved in patient-centered research, not only to educate herself but others as well, she said. She especially enjoys the chance to share her experience and tips with others living with diabetes.

During National Diabetes Month and every other month, Penn State PaTH to Health’s diabetes project seeks to support and educate people living with any form of diabetes. Its website hosts current articles on diabetes (including diabetes and COVID-19), bi-annual study newsletters and diabetic-friendly recipes.

“The stories come from people who are diabetic and are actually dealing with it, and that’s so much more effective,” Evans said. “In my life journey through diabetes, I can help someone else live a better life.”

Through health challenges that recently included a bad fall and a fractured ankle on top of her chronic health issues, Evans says she leans into two things to stay positive – her faith and staying active with as much exercise as she can manage.

“We all have our bad days, but you can’t let it beat you up,” she said. “When you give up, that’s when you hurt yourself.”

Evans finds cooking is a great stress reliever and spends much of her time in the kitchen – where she reunites with fond memories of her mom’s and grandmother’s kitchens as a gathering spot for family.

In the kitchen, Evans says she still is who she has always been – someone who is able.

“With all my limitations, this is a place where I can still be me,” she said. “Deep down, I know I can still do it.”

* (PCORI Award, NEN-1509-32304)

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