Heart of the Valley: Valley woman describes impact of diabetes diagnosis

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An estimated one in four people have diabetes nationwide.

In the Rio Grande Valley, that number grows to one in three.

"I got diabetes when I was in my 30s," Norma Sanchez, 66, said.

She was diagnosed as a Type 2 Diabetic.

Sanchez is one of an estimated 76,000 people in the Valley that has been diagnosed with diabetes.

"At first, I controlled it for a long time just with diet, salads and whatever they told me to," Sanchez said. "They put me on this plan, and it was working, but then you get tired of it, you get away from it."

Sanchez relies on insulin to control her blood sugar.

"My insurance pays for it, but I have to pay the deductible, and for a while there I couldn't even afford it," Sanchez said. "I had to go to Mexico, and I was paying $135 for one." 

It's a burden many people deal with, especially in low income areas.

For a look at free diabetes screenings throughout the Valley during the month of April, visit our Heart of the Valley page.

Type 1 diabetes means that your body doesn't make enough insulin, while Type 2 diabetes means your body makes the insulin, but can't use it properly.

"Type 1 diabetes is not preventable. In contrast, diabetes Type 2 is preventable or, at least initially manageable with diet change," DHR Health Endocrinologist Dr. Michelle Cordoba Kissee said.

According to the CDC, 90% of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. There are several things that can cause it, including having a family history, or being overweight.

"A challenge here in the Valley, especially when it comes to Type 2 diabetes, a lot of our patients have to be concerned about obtaining food," Kissee said. "So if you're worried about not being able to afford the food in your house, you may choose food that lasts longer. You might reach for food that are highly processed, more carbs as opposed to fresh fruits and vegetables."

The disease is treatable, and reversible, but to fight it, you need to get diagnosed. 

HEB and South Texas Health Systems are offering free diabetes screenings.

HEB will offer their screenings every Tuesday during the month of April from 8 a.m. to noon. For the full schedule, click here. 

Watch the video above for the full story.


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