Multidisciplinary Approach Helps Those with Diabetes

Posted: Mar 27, 2017 11:32 PM Updated: Mar 27, 2017 11:32 PM

WESLACO - A different approach to treating diabetes is happening at a Rio Grande Valley clinic.

Dr. Monzer Yazji said he believes treating diabetes is like a sport. He looks at every facet of a patient’s life then forms a game plan to tackle the disease.

Power in numbers is more than a phrase, according to Dr. Yazji.

“It’s not just you, it’s your whole family,” said Elizabeth Cantu, Dr. Yazji’s patient.

In November 2014, an abnormal cyst landed Cantu in the hospital. Her visit revealed something a health complication surgery alone couldn’t fix. In addition, she was diagnosed with diabetes.

Cantu said her fast-paced lifestyle led her to the disease.

“When you’re older, you get diagnosed. You’re looking back and I do, ‘Oh, I knew this and I should have done better,’” she said.

The diagnosis was a turning point for Cantu. She said she tried diet and exercise, but wasn’t making any progress.

A multidisciplinary treatment changed that about a year ago.

“We have to approach the patient, his family, his environment, his work, his mental status all together,” said Dr. Yazji.

Dr. Yazji said the results derive from a team effort which can include a nutritionist, dietician and psychologist among others.

“With this kind of approach it really makes a huge difference in a patient. Then the patient starts really feeling the support system, starts seeing the big picture and starts seeing he’s not alone,” he said.

He said medicine alone won’t cut it for the holistic approach to battle diabetes.

“We’re not talking about just making your numbers perfect. We’re really talking about making your life better,” he said.

The program caters to individual patients. Dr. Yazji said key players assess the patient and then a plan is created. It can include diet, exercise, medication and overall change of lifestyle patterns.

Dr. Yajzi said results are analyzed at milestones within the program and adjustments are also made accordingly.

Cantu said it wasn’t easy incorporating all the elements, but so far it’s proven worth it.

“I feel better. I feel good. I can wake and say, ‘Oh, wow!’ and know that it’s a better day since yesterday,” she said. “My journey’s been long and I still have a journey to go, but I know with the man upstairs and my doctor and the people that I work with, the exercise program is wonderful.”

The multidisciplinary treatment helped Cantu lose more than 100 pounds and get her diabetes under control

According to Dr. Yazji, it takes about six months to see results.

Cantu added her family also benefits from the treatment.

“His assessment is not just you; it’s your whole family. To help your whole family, it’s an educational journey,” she said.

The physician said prevention is the best treatment for diabetes and the multidisciplinary approach helps. He said by incorporating the patient’s family into the picture, the younger members of the household adopt healthy habits early on.

Cantu said her and her family’s health changed once she joined the program. She added they still have a ways to go, but she’s happy with where she is now. 

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CHANNEL 5 NEWS is dedicating two weeks of coverage and events to diabetes. As part of Heart of the Valley, there will be free screenings, live Q&A session with doctors and more. Learn more on the Heart of the Valley page.