national diabetes month
We chatted to community inspiration Veronica Vember about how she changes lives, one step at a time.
What got you interested in diabetes at first?
It all started whilst working in the vascular unit at Kingsbury Hospital. I realised that most people are not informed about managing diabetes after being diagnosed. So I became passionate in the control of potential complications, and Kingsbury management identified my passion and allowed me to do the vascular course in London as it’s not offered here. On my return, I did two presentations at the doctors academic meetings. At the time my husband had a myocardial infarction and had been diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes. The entire experience stimulated me to get involved with my community. Now my husband is one of the volunteers. I then started doing motivational talks at schools, groups, on radio and at our nursing college.
How did you start your community group?
I joined the Strandfontein Health Forum and offered to do the diabetes awareness events as there was no project as such. With the awareness held at the Strandfontein Clinic I handed out questionnaires and a suggestion box. The community asked for a diabetic support group: that’s what started it.
What keeps you inspired?
The positive attitude and enthusiasm of the volunteers, and noticing the excitement of the attendees. When we take a break, people want to know when we’ll be starting again. The continuous support of ‘diabetes life’ (a diabetic clinic at Kingsbury hospital) under the management of endocrinologist Dr May, Dr Tracy van Rensburg and nurse educator Sr. Dee Ferguson (my mentor). Positive feedback from the doctors at the day hospitals where the clients attend also keeps me going.
You were voted one of the Western Cape’s Lead SA heroes – how did this make you feel?
Surprised, shocked, emotional, confused and thankful towards the responsible person for the recognition. I’m very proud of the team of dedicated volunteer attendees as I can’t do this alone. It’s a team effort – unity is strength.
What advice do you offer your support group members when they are struggling?
To persevere, not to give up, not to give in, to be compliant, to attend the support group regularly. We do individual counselling and have a communication box available for constructive comments and replies.
How do you make diabetes inspiring?
We create a harmonious atmosphere: a safe environment with easy accessibility, clean, functional equipment and competent staff. We vary programs, presentations, literature, topics and menus (soup in winter and tea and a snack in summer). We also combine our decision making with the volunteers.
What makes your life sweet?
Carrying out our mission, vision and outcome.
S – be sensitive towards all
W – warn people about the consequences of not being compliant
E – educate people regarding a healthy lifestyle and change of mindset
E – be empathetic and empower people with knowledge
T – to be trained, to train others
To ensure that all community members are well informed, and reach and maintain normal glucose levels.
Get in touch with Veronica: Strandfontein Diabetic Support Group on Facebook
Indigenous Afro-Soul artist Candy Tsamandebele talks to us about living with Type 2 diabetes.
When did you find out you had Type 2 diabetes?
After the death of my son through an accident. It was unexpected to say the least.
Was it a shock?
Yes it was.
How did you have to adapt your lifestyle?
I started with what I ate and drank. It was difficult at first, but with time I got used to it. Secondly, my lifestyle all together.
How do you balance a busy lifestyle with eating well and exercise?
Sticking to a strict diet. Also understanding the consequences of ignoring that diet.
What advice would you offer to those living with diabetes?
Just take it one step at a time. Take your medications on time and eat healthy.
What makes your life sweet?
Music. It really does.
Some background on Candy and her outreach work:
August 2, 2011 was one of Candy Tsamandebele’s most trying times in her life when she lost her son in a car accident. Six months later she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Not one to be kept down, two years after the trauma, Candy garnered strength to launch CANDY TSAMANDEBELE FOUNDATION. She uses the foundation to teach young women and the youth in general about values and it is her vehicle to drive and leave behind a legacy as she continues to grow in the music industry.
The main aim of the Candy Tsamandebele Foundation was to teach kids about music, the importance of culture, significance of language, youth development, medical assistance, helping with school uniforms to needy, and several other initiatives that are close to her heart.
Every year Candy Tsamandebele dedicates her time to carry out community building initiatives such as visiting schools and donating school uniforms, as well as motivating the youth both in and out of school. She encourages young people to use their natural abilities and talents to make it through life. During her motivations, she always talks about the importance of getting tested for diabetes and other chronic conditions and adhering to taking treatment once diagnosed.
Since she was diagnosed with diabetes, Candy Tsamandebele has made it her mission to be a national diabetes warrior. She is a force to be reckoned with and she will stop at nothing for as long as she is needed to make a difference.
Find out more at www.candytsamandebelesa.com
If you met Shiara Pillay, a happy, healthy and confident 21-year-old who loves Art and is studying International Relations and Diplomacy, you wouldn’t guess that she had a chronic condition. But Shiara is a Type 1 diabetic. She just doesn’t let it get her down.
When did you find out you were diabetic?
When I was in Grade 4 and just about to turn 10. It wasn’t too horrible a diagnosis in comparison to some – my parents noticed that I was losing an extreme amount of weight, I was very dehydrated and waking up in the night to pee – all the classic symptoms.
Then one morning I threw up and they took me to the doctor. I was in hospital for a week and since then I’ve figured out how to live as normal a life as possible with diabetes. The hardest thing to get used to was not being able to eat sweets!
How has diabetes changed your daily life?
I think I’m obviously way more healthy than I would have been because I have to watch what I eat. I have a great diabetes team, and they’ve helped me to adjust my medication and my meals whenever I need to. I like the idea of being able to eat everything in moderation.
How does it help to have a community of fellow diabetics?
It helps to know that there are others in the same situation, it reminds you that you’re not alone. Youth With Diabetes really helped me to meet other people who have to think about the same things every day. I also think diabetes education is so important – new diabetics especially need to know what helps and what doesn’t, what you can eat, how you should exercise, how you feel when you’re low or high. It’s nice for me to share my experiences too. I do have bad days, it’s annoying to have to inject every day, but it’s just something you have to make the best of.
What advice would you offer to other diabetics?
Just do it – you can’t get out of it. If you look after yourself, it’ll be better for you in the long run, it’s for your benefit. And it makes you healthier too!
What makes your life sweet?
Just being happy – when things are going well and the sun is shining!
“I would like to know to help and support a friend who has diabetes. My friend is a Type 1 diabetic and I’m not always sure how to help him in the tough times.” Markus Vorster
You have not said how old your friend is, but much of the basics stay the same. Here are 7 ways to support your friend with diabetes.
- First of all, treat your friend like anyone else. It is important for him to realise that his diabetes makes absolutely no difference to your friendship. If your friend is having trouble accepting his condition, be supportive and understanding.
- Try not to ‘mother’ him, but do encourage him to look after himself.
- Understand that people with diabetes are more prone to mood swings and depression than those who do not have diabetes.
- Learn to be able to recognise when his blood sugar goes too low, and know what to do in case he needs help.
- Remember, really tough times for diabetics are when they are sick. Blood glucose levels bounce up and down and this makes them feel more ill.
- Give him all your support by understanding his condition to the best of your ability.
- Get the facts and go beyond the myths and misinformation by talking to your friend, your doctor, or relatives who have diabetes.
As a friend, your understanding and acceptance are very important. The more you understand his circumstances, the less alone your friend is likely to feel.
Empathise, but never sympathise.
– Jeannie Berg, Diabetes Educator
Teens with Type 1
Teenagers with Type 1 diabetes feel especially isolated and alone. It’s bad enough dealing with body changes and hormonal issues, but add to that testing blood sugar, keeping tabs on what you eat and injecting yourself, as well as mood swings, and you can see why teens with Type 1 have a lot to deal with. Understanding what goes into diabetes means you can help your teen feel less self-conscious and different from everyone else.
We are the Blood Sugars project from the University of the Witwatersrand and the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.
November is National Diabetes Month.
We have created a performance that takes people through a reflective journey through the use of storytelling and metaphor.
The aim of the performance is to explore the complexities of living and working with Diabetes from the perspective of clinicians, patients and families with the ultimate aim of improving treatment outcomes through changed behaviour.
We would like to bring the performance to hospitals, clinics, schools and theatres as a way of reaching the general public.
We aim to perform in the month of October and November 2016.
Please email me if you are in Johannesburg and interested in hosting a performance.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
– Tshegofatso Seabi
– Health Communication Research Unit
– University of the Witwatersrand
The Western Cape branch of Diabetes SA has partnered with the Lions to organise a walk this National Diabetes Month – get all the details below!
When: Saturday 28th November 2015
Where: Cape Academy for Maths, Science and Technology, Firgrove Way, Constantia
Route: Through the Tokai Forest
Find out more: By emailing email@example.com
A message from Diabetes SA Western Cape:
Diabetes is the 2nd leading cause of death in the Western Cape. In South Africa there are over 6 million people diagnosed with Diabetes and many more who don’t know they have the disease. Diabetes is prevalent in over 30% of the population of the Western Cape. Diabetes kills more people than HIV/Aids, and people with Diabetes likely to develop T.B. and die from it.
Diabetes South Africa is a registered Non profit organisation and public benefit organisation and registered under Section 18A with S.A.R.S. They raise funds towards the implementation of many projects which include; camps for children with diabetes, workshops for newly diagnosed patients, Schools Awareness project, Community Wellness groups, Public Awareness events and Training of Home Based Carers in Underprivileged Communities. Included in their services are Corporate Wellness Days where education, counseling and screening of staff can be done at small fee.
No financial support is available to Diabetes South Africa in the current Healthcare system. In order to facilitate their services to the people of South Africa, Diabetes S.A. needs the support of the Private Sector in it’s efforts to reduce the damaging effects of this disease and premature mortality, which affects so many people in the prime of their working lives. The prevalence of diabetes has increased hugely in the coloured community, and the high prevalence of undiagnosed diabetes portends that cardiovascular diseases might grow to epidemic proportions in the near future in South Africa.
Contact Diabetes S.A. Western Cape Branch at 021 425 4440 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to offer some support, or book your corporate wellness day. Help further their very important work of saving lives and preventing diabetes.
It’s National Diabetes Month – the perfect time to get involved in spreading diabetes awareness… Here are some great ways to get involved:
- Join Sweet Life’s Facebook page, Diabetic South Africans, and meet other people living with diabetes: www.facebook.com/DiabeticSouthAfricans
- Get informed by reading our community blog, commenting and asking your own questions: www.sweetlifemag.co.za/community
- Check out Kids Powered by Insulin for parents of diabetic children: www.facebook.com/groups/Kidspoweredbyinsulin/
- Join a local support group.
- Speak about diabetes – and what it’s like to live with it every day – to your friends and family. Diabetes education can start at home.
- Get involved with Denim for Diabetes, run by Diabetes SA. During November, businesses can hold a Denim Day to help create awareness of diabetes. It’s as simple as hosting a casual day where staff pay R10 and wear denims in support of diabetes awareness.
If you don’t have a support group in your area and you want to start one, here’s what you need to do!
1. Spread the word: tell everyone you know with diabetes in your area, post on our Facebook page and blog, and put up notices in the community and even in the local newspaper.
2. Find a suitable space that you can hold the meetings (for free).
3. Find a diabetes educator or a clinic sister who can be at each meeting to answer questions.
4. Get some diabetic-friendly snacks and free Sweet Life magazines (let us know and we’ll send them!)
5. Meet once a month to support each another.
And finally, educate others too! Sometimes getting involved is as easy as being honest about diabetes.