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Empowering women to control diabetes

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

When Patricia Addie-Gentle first walked into the diabetes care clinic, she was overwhelmed.

"There were so many different medicines and drugs that I couldn't understand," she said. "I could only imagine how a person with diabetes would feel."

As a health care professional, Addie-Gentle has been dedicated to helping people with diabetes through the sometimes overwhelming amount of information that comes with trying to live with and manage the disease. That's why she strongly supports the "Divabetic -- Makeover Your Diabetes" program coming to Atlanta this weekend. Focused on helping empower women to deal with diabetes and helping them learn to take control of their own care regimens, the program, sponsored by health-care company Novo Nordisk , combines celebrity makeovers with casual and personal education sessions.

"They come out for whatever, maybe the makeover," said Addie-Gentle, who works to make diabetes care available to diverse groups in Clayton County. "But once they get out there, they get entangled. They will learn."

According to Addie-Gentle and the Novo Nordisk idea, diabetes care and information needs to be taken out of the explicit medical context of doctors offices and hospitals and taken to the community.

"Most people tend to feel, especially in the south, especially here in Georgia, and especially among the older people, that the doctor takes care of it, but diabetes is a self-managed disease. There's no doctor who can control it. The person has to be empowered to understand and know what they need to do to have overall control," Addie-Gentle said.

This is especially true with women and minorities, according to Addie-Gentle, and people who have been in and out of the hospital, an overwhelming and often baffling experience.

"When you're looking at diabetes and at women, you're looking at people who feel like they've tried and failed," Addie-Gentle said. "Diabetes is a lifelong journey. It doesn't go away. It goes on vacation with you. It's there when you're sleeping. You always have to be aware that you have to maintain your numbers, so you don't go into insulin shock."

An event like Novo Nordisk's "Divabetic -- Makeover Your Diabetes," can help people re-approach the life-long process of controlling the disease. It offers creative ways to deal with the related stress and is meant to be a free, fun and relaxing event.

The event will be held on Saturday, April 12 at 12:30 p.m., in the Omni Hotel, 100 CNN Center. Visit www.divabetic.org or call (800) 634-8888 for more information.