Madison Countians with diabetes will have an opportunity Thursday to hear the personal experiences of someone living with the disease.

Ann Gann, a Tennessean who is a member of a patient-led approach to diabetes education called A1C Champions, will speak from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Diabetes Center of Excellence of the Madison County Health Department, 2005 Corporate Drive, Richmond.

Gann, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1994, will discuss a variety of topics, including how to achieve good glucose control, learning about effective self-management, developing a balanced, healthy lifestyle, planning and prioritizing diabetes management, overcoming fears surrounding diabetes and finding resources for diabetes support.

“The Diabetes Center of Excellence of the Madison County Health Department is always looking for new and exciting opportunities to help support Madison Countians with diabetes in their efforts toward better diabetes control and improved quality of life,” said Kim DeCoste, coordinator of the Madison County Diabetes Coalition.

“In these patient-to-patient presentations, an A1C Champion such as Ann Gann will talk about her physical, emotional and psychological experiences with diabetes,” she said. “By sharing her personal insights and helpful approaches with others, she hopes to help empower others to make the right choices in taking care of their diabetes.”

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 20 million Americans have diabetes — 6 million of whom are unaware they have the disease.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes should initially strive for an A1C, a test that assesses blood glucose levels over a two- to three-month period, that is less than 7 percent.

A 2005 survey commissioned by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists found that 84 percent of Type 2 diabetes patients surveyed believed they were doing a good job controlling their blood sugar even though 61 percent went on to say they did not know what an A1C test is.

“Living with a chronic disease and making the changes necessary for good blood sugar control can be difficult,” DeCoste said. “It is important that people with diabetes learn all they can about self-managing their disease. The information should come from reliable reputable sources. It is also nice to have a peer-someone else who has walked in their shoes and understands how it feels to live with a chronic disease.”

The event is open to those with diabetes, their family members and friends.

To sign up, call 623-3462.

Bryan Marshall can be reached at bmarshall@richmondregister.com or 624-6691.

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