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Tour de Cure’s cause hits home

Published 8:24pm Saturday, April 13, 2013

Diabetes has affected many lives throughout the world, and it is a health crisis in the making — especially in the United States. And Southern food staples certainly don’t help us avoid the pitfalls that usually lead to Type 2 diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association helps to search for a cure for diabetes and champions the cause for those already suffering. Suffolk is hosting the fundraiser Tour de Cure on April 20 to benefit the organization.

My father loved sweets of all kinds. I am not sure saying he had “a sweet tooth” is a way to properly describe how much he liked desserts. Growing up, my dad’s family didn’t even get up from the table before they had dessert at dinnertime. I always knew that dad was the one to go to if I wanted a little something sweet. But his love of food didn’t stop at sweets. It all led to him pushing 50 and being more than a little overweight.

Then came the big diagnosis. He was feeling groggy particularly after eating sugary foods and lost weight without even trying. Dad went to the doctor and came back with a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. He came home with a blood sugar monitor and an appointment to see a dietitian.

Dad did really well initially. He followed the dietitian’s suggestions, walked regularly and lost even more weight. He was able to keep his diabetes in check with just diet and exercise.

With any diet or lifestyle change, the maintenance is the hard part. Life gets in the way and the old way of doing things comes calling just when your dedication is waning.

My father started a new job, and we moved to a new town. With that came extra stress for my dad, and he dealt with that by eating. As the diet fell by the wayside, his waistline expanded again. He eventually had to be put on medication to help regulate his blood sugar.

Many people live decades with diabetes and are able to manage it properly. The disease ravages other people by losing limbs, their eyesight, heart disease or various other side effects.

My father died roughly six years after his diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer claimed his life at 57. His previous days as a smoker contributed to his disease, but I imagine if he had better managed his diabetes — or never gotten diabetes in the first place — he might still be here today.

Diabetes does not have to be inevitable for most American adults. Some people are more susceptible than others but everything in moderation — including being active — can help avoid this chronic disease.

Tour de Cure takes cyclists on one of four different routes throughout Suffolk that are 10, 30, 65 and 100 miles long. The event will depart from King’s Fork High School. Riders must raise a minimum of $175 plus a $25 registration fee to participate.

To learn more about the Tour de Cure, visit www.diabetes.org/hamptonroadsvatour.

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