Local group offers nine years of support
The local Williams Diabetes Support Group, organized by Rose Marie and Larry Rincon, will celebrate their ninth birthday next month at the Williams Senior Center. Scheduled for the monthly meeting, set for Nov. 1 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. is special guest Frank Atherton of Scottsdale. Atherton will be on hand to offer valuable advice on diabetes to those who attend the meeting. The public is also invited to attend the monthly event.
"He's an A1C Champion," Rincon said of Atherton. "We can all become A1C champions in our lives too."
A1C, she said, refers to a blood sugar level. Those who take the A1C test twice a year and keep their levels below seven percent for a year are then referred to as A1C champions. The perfect level, she added, is six and a half percent. Atherton is a member of the A1C Championship program, sponsored by the Sonofi-Aventis group (producers of insulin) and will share his personal experiences with the Williams support group.
Rincon said that holding a seven percent blood sugar level can, often, be a daunting task.
"Most people when they get diagnosed are way, way over that, like in the 10 to 12 range, so if you can get down to the 7 percent level, you're much, much better off," she said. "It avoids complications, makes you feel better and you're in control of your diabetes."
"This is our ninth year anniversary, so we're really excited about that," Rincon said. "We've been doing the support group here in Williams for nine years. We've learned so much in the process of doing this. Year after year we've gotten to know wonderful people that have come and have gone through the program, the meal planning program, the informational program and every month we have a different speaker or different topic to do with controlling your diabetes, whether it's meal planning, foot care, eye care. We've reached out to the community, we participated in health fairs with the Williams Healthcare Center and also with the school program."
Rincon said the support group has also begun to "evolve" in recent years, thanks to the support of the community.
"We're also expanding, going out to expos. We're going to be doing an expo Nov. 14 for the Hopi Tribe," Rincon said. "The biggest challenge is educating people that there's hope. When you first get diagnosed with diabetes, you get very fearful, because you hear all the bad things about diabetes and what can happen to you, but very rarely do they tell you that you're in control of it and all these things don't have to happen. First comes the diagnosis and you become fearful and you're in denial, then you finally accept it. The lifestyle change is the biggest obstacle (that) everyone has to go through and deal with and once you make that choice that you are going to do a lifestyle change, it makes such a big turnaround and a difference in your life. We promote lots of awareness. You know everyone is capable of making that lifestyle change. You don't have to go into the complications that are always stressed. There's hope."
Rincon herself has lived with diabetes for over 20 years.
"It's something I work at every day. You don't take a vacation from diabetes, but you can control it. It gets easier, not always, but it gets easier," Rincon said.
Rincon thanked a number of individuals for their invaluable support in the group, including husband Larry Rincon.
"My husband has been a tremendous help," she said. "He's been my biggest supporter. He helps me. Also I've had a lot of support from Wendy Bourne from Flagstaff Medical. She's a certified diabetic educator and she's really helped us."
Some funding for the support group comes from a grant from the Greater Williams Community Foundation. The foundation hosts the annual Kevin Twitty Memorial Golf Tournament each year.
Rincon said new members are always encouraged to attend meetings of the Diabetic Support Group.
"We try to make them feel comfortable," Rincon said. "It's an open forum. It's just talking and involvement. They can feel free to participate in it too (and) ask questions if they have any questions they're not real sure about. It's a free service we have always provided. We also have materials provided for them to read at home."
The Williams Diabetes Support Group can be reached at (928) 635-4897 or by attending their monthly meetings at the Williams Senior Center, located at 850 West Grant Street in Williams.
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