Melissa Kane took care of her late mother for 10 years while she battled the effects of Type 2 Diabetes. And when Melissa, a 39-year-old New Hampshire native and single mother of two boys, found out she herself had the disease, she knew she had to take control of her life.
And that’s just what she did –losing 80 lbs (32kg) over a two year span. Now, she’s never been happier or healthier.
This determined, small business owner is a fighter, and an inspiration to anyone looking to overcome life’s obstacles. She recently spoke with Everyday Diabetes Magazine from her home in Bainbridge, New York.
What was your reaction when you found out you had diabetes?
I was very worried and very shocked. I had previously seen what my mother had gone through (I was her caregiver) and I didn’t want that same life for myself so, I knew I had to change my lifestyle.
Has having diabetes affected your day-to-day professional life?
I travel a lot for work so it played a huge role in my professional life. I had to carry a cooler with me at all times because I was insulin dependent due to my A1C being so high. It also affected my driving ability as I would suffer from major headaches also caused by very low blood pressure. My feet would cramp from just driving due to high sugars all the time.
How has it affected your personal life?
I had major mood swings, was sick a lot. And I didn’t feel the like I had enough energy to complete everyday functions as a mother. I was tired all the time.
What do you think about diabetes awareness in America?
I don’t think there is enough of it, people do not understand how much healthy food plays a role in diabetes and for some people they simply can’t afford to eat healthy
People need to understand: it is not selfish to focus on Our own health despite our busy lives as mothers, business owners or what have you. It is very important to be healthy for your family.
What do you think the government could do to improve the diabetes problem?
Decrease the cost of healthy foods and provide free clinics for people who can’t afford health insurance. Also we need to have more local farmers’ markets.
How do people usually react when you tell them you have diabetes?
My family was devastated when they found out, it’s a disease which sometimes is silent and people really don’t understand how sick you really are and and how you feel.
How about support groups? Are there any that you have turned to over the years?
I turned to my mother for support and she provided me with daily support and love. Sadly, she recently passed away.
What advice would you give someone newly diagnosed?
Pay attention to all of your symptoms and take care of yourself. Never neglect something that you don’t feel is right. Exercise daily and live a healthy lifestyle. Closely monitor your numbers and make it a priority –do not place it on the back burner.
Unhealthy food, I believe, is a poison to diabetics. For me, the number one thing was learning how to eat and what to eat. I turned to a great friend, named Rachel Reid, who provided me with the knowledge I needed and helped me with nutrition.
What are you most proud of on your diabetic journey?
I am proud of losing 80 lbs in a two-year time frame, being completely off any and all medications and insulin and really working hard at the gym.
I have had a complete transformation, not only physically but also mentally. I have changed my body, my health and my thinking.
People need to understand it is not selfish to focus on your own health despite our busy lives as mothers, business owners or what have you. It is very important to be healthy for your family. I was my mother’s caregiver for over 10 years I saw her struggles everyday and I did not want my family to have to endure that kind of responsibility, so I changed myself.
Photos courtesy of Melissa Kane