Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Age: 60
Age diagnosed: 56
Type 2

“You have diabetes.” When Joyce heard those three words, she pulled up her boots and faced the disease head-on, never looking back at what her life and eating habits used to be. One of the worst words to associate with diabetes is “struggle” and Joyce believes “diabetes is only a struggle if you choose to view it as such. Once you decide that you are struggling with something in life, it will become one.”

Joyce was diagnosed at her former employer’s health-screening event and wasn’t the only employee who received that news. The entire office rallied around them, offering constant support. She says, “during lunch we wrote down questions to ask our doctors, and then shared the responses the next day. We were able to discuss our condition with open minds and among others who understood.”

Life throws challenges our way and doesn’t discriminate against those with diabetes. Drastic lifestyle changes had to be made if Joyce was going to face the challenges of diabetes. “I could have dragged out making these changes, which would have made it harder for me to adjust,” Joyce says. “The day after I was diagnosed was the last day I fried anything in my kitchen. I baked, broiled, or grilled everything. If I wanted crunchy, I turned to popcorn or raw vegetables. I added more vegetables and a lot less starch.”

Living with diabetes gave Joyce a new outlook on life. “People who approach turning points in their lives with a positive attitude are more successful than those who don’t. I know there is no cure for diabetes and that I will have to live with it for the rest of my life,” she says.

Diabetes didn’t make Joyce stronger, and she feels that “people have to determine how strong they want to be in life. I was a strong person prior to being diagnosed; therefore diabetes did nothing to change that. Being strong prior to my diagnosis helped me to advocate for myself, change my lifestyle and to believe that even as a diabetic, I can still accomplish anything I strive to do in life.” She describes diabetes like a train station on life’s railroad tracks, “I have to pull into the station to eat, test, and take medication and then continue on my journey until it is time for the next stop.”

Joyce has become strong because she’s seen what happen to those who aren’t. “No one is going to motivate you, support you and advocate for you better than you. In other words, no one is going to fight long and hard for your life but you,” she says. “Stop depending on others to pull you out of the mess you created. Be responsible for your own diabetes.”

She knows that life with diabetes can be difficult and wants to encourage others living with the disease to become their own advocate and to “appreciate life and count your blessings. So you have diabetes, big deal, there are people coming home from wars without limbs, vision, or hearing. There are people living under bridges, in abandoned homes, or in cars. People are far worse off than you but they keep moving forward as best they can. Stop depending on others to be supportive of you.”

For those new to living with diabetes Joyce says, “Open your mind and learn to live as a healthy diabetic. Get rid of unnecessary stress. Look at your life; change what you feel you need to change. Develop a more positive outlook on life. Get out and make new friends and try new things. I don’t focus on being diabetic. Diabetes is only a struggle if you choose to make it one. Live life because no matter what problems anyone may have, tomorrow isn’t promised to us.”

“Today, I honestly can say that I am healthier because of diabetes than I was without it. Had I not been diagnosed, I would be very overweight, unable to walk a flight of stairs without stopping to rest and more than likely miserable. I think in a sense for me being diagnosed was in a way a blessing. It forced me to change my lifestyle,” she says.

If you would like to connect with Joyce, you can find her at profile Just Joyce.

More Voices of Diabetes:

Smarter Not Stronger
No Excuses, No Matter What
Gaining Strength Through Diabetes

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