WILLIAMS - Being diagnosed with diabetes doesn't have to ruin your life. Just ask Rose Marie Rincon.
Rincon provided primary care for her mother who eventually died of the disease. Rincon herself was diagnosed with diabetes shortly after her mother's death. She said she always considered herself a fairly healthy person.
"It was a shock," she said. "Even though it was in my family and my mother had it and I was her caregiver at the very end, I never thought I was going to get it. It was kind of like a slap in the face."
After a long period of losing sleep at night and feeling tired and thirsty, Rincon went to her doctor to find out what was wrong.
"I just felt lousy," she said. "I felt like I was coming down with the flu to tell you the truth."
Upon her diagnosis with diabetes, Rincon began to educate herself about the disease. She became interested in diabetes prevention as well as aspects of controlling the chronic condition.
Rincon and her husband Larry founded the Williams Diabetes Support Group (WDSG) about 12 years ago to promote Diabetes awareness and how to better take care of one's self.
"One of the things that struck us some 15-20 years ago was, there wasn't a lot of awareness about diabetes," Larry Rincon said. "There wasn't a lot of material available. Not too long ago."
The two contacted the Arizona Health Department's Chronic Disease Unit and began attending state seminars in Phoenix sponsored by the American Diabetes Association bringing materials back to Williams.
Eventually, a Flagstaff support group was founded and currently has around 50 members with the Williams group numbering between 15-20 people per meeting.
Dietitians generally draw the largest crowds. Rincon said heavy fried foods, processed foods, white flour and sugar should be largely avoided and that portion control is important as well. She said living with diabetes doesn't have to completely change one's life.
"Once you get into how to do it, it is not as hard as people would think," she said.
The support group is a place to share experiences with diabetes and overcoming the disease. Rincon said those recently diagnosed find the group a big help.
"You know, they're just in shock and they don't know what to do and how to even get started," she said. "When they come, they love the fact that we have the materials there to help them and they get a better understanding of where to start."
According to Rincon, diabetes keeps growing and America is getting heavier.
"We're not getting ahead of it," he said. "Changing behaviors is the hardest part. We're human beings. Especially when it comes to food. A lot of it comes down to attitude. It takes an emotional and physical toll on people. If you don't take control of your emotions it works against you because you don't take care of yourself. Changing attitudes. Changing habits. This is what it comes down to."
WDSG meetings take place at the Williams Senior Center, 850 W. Grant St. once a month at 10:30 a.m. For more information contact Rincon at (928) 635-4897.