CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- November is Diabetes Awareness month. The disease, often referred to as the silent killer affects millions of Americans.
Janet Espana, a working mother of two from Chesterfield, is one of the 29.1 million people living with the disease. She was diagnosed in 2005.
On top of her hectic mommy schedule, she must find time to prick her fingers, check her numbers, and give herself insulin.
Diabetes affects the glucose, or sugar levels in her body. People with the disease, either don't produce enough insulin to control their sugar, or their bodies don't use the insulin it has well. Janet knows the risk of ignoring the problem.
“I want to see my daughter graduate, I want to see her get married, and my son too,“ she said.
Diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputations, blindness, and even death. In fact, the American Diabetes Association says the disease causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and aids combined; still 8.1 million people don’t know they have it.
Every year more people are diagnosed and doctors call it an epidemic.
“One day my daughter asked me why do I have to do it, and it’s hard to explain it to her, I don’t want her to go through it,” said Janet.
The good news is the disease can be controlled with a good diet and exercise. Janet is learning and making the necessary changes. Her biggest challenge is what she puts on her plate.
"I’m like I know I need to eat the salad, but I want to eat the burger,” she said.
But she's determined to do the work for her family and for herself.
“That’s why I decided to take charge and not let this control me anymore,” said Janet.
There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be controlled. Janet is getting a lot of help on her journey from the local YMCA.
CBS6 will continue to follow Janet’s story, Thursday, November 19 at 5:30. We will find out more about YMCA’s program, and the signs you should look out for if you think you’re at risk for diabetes.