Celebrating Native American Heritage Month

Diabetes Stops Here: 11/7/12

November is Native American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the traditions and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native Americans. This month is also an opportune time to raise awareness about the serious prevalence of diabetes in Native American communities.

Why is this so important? Because at nearly 16.1 percent, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among all U.S. racial and ethnic groups. The death rate due to diabetes for Native Americans is 1.6 times higher compared with the general U.S. population.

I myself have a strong family history of diabetes. My father, grandparents, several aunts, uncles and cousins all have or had diabetes. I’ve witnessed complications such as amputations, kidney damage and vision problems.

I know that complications do not have to be a part of living with diabetes. I work as the diabetes care center program manager at the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center in Ada, Okla., promoting the message to patients that it’s possible to live a long and healthy life with diabetes. Read more