When JoAnn Henderson-Collins, 58, of Detroit talks about her diabetes, a word that comes up often is "journey"—one that started with older family members. Her mother had congestive heart failure and nerve damage, both complications of diabetes. Two of her aunts died of complications, including kidney failure; her uncle lost the toes of 1 foot; and her grandmother had both legs amputated above the knee. "All of that happened in my family at the same time I had diabetes myself," says Henderson-Collins. Her own diagnosis dates to when she was pregnant with her youngest child, Shameka, now 26. Within 4 years, Henderson-Collins had type 2 diabetes, and she's been dealing with it ever since.
To see JoAnn Henderson-Collins's success strategies, click here.
That revelation came on the heels of another major turning point in Henderson-Collins's life—the birth of a homegrown organization called the Sisters Cycling Bicycle Club. It started when her oldest daughter, 40-year-old Charlene, took her family related diabetes risks to heart and decided to ride in the 7- to 50-mile Detroit Tour de Cure, one of many mass bicycle outings sponsored by the American Diabetes Association. Attracting 36 other African-American women to ride with her, Charlene asked her mother to join. "I said, 'Are you crazy? I'm too old, I've got too much caboose. I can't do that!'" recalls Henderson-Collins. "Charlene just looked at me and said, 'Ma.'" The exasperated tone in her daughter's voice said, "You're whining." Henderson-Collins joined the tour—and loved it.
- Commit "Get a grip on 3 things to control diabetes," says Henderson-Collins. "Take your medicine, exercise, and eat healthy."
- Experiment When in-line skating didn't work out, Henderson-Collins kept saying yes to new activities until she hit biking and stuck with it. "You have to find what works for you."
- Think "I can" "People say to me, 'You poor baby, you have diabetes—you can't eat this or that.' I say, 'I am fine—and I pretty much eat what you eat.' You can eat anything you want if you adjust the portions and cook it right."