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Diagnosed with disease, Carpenter joins diabetes fight


Special to The Dispatch



Nancy Carpenter, project manager for the Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation, is joining the Mississippi Walk for Diabetes as its honorary chairwoman. 


Joined by nearly 320,000 other Mississippi families and individuals with type 2 diabetes, Carpenter''s parents both had the chronic disease, and she developed it earlier this year. 


And now, more than ever, Carpenter champions proactive diabetes management and healthy lifestyle choices. 


As she helped care for her parents, she, consequently, learned many things about what people with diabetes should eat and how closely they should monitor their blood glucose. She had a front-row seat to all of the meticulous components of diabetes management, but she was also there when her father lost the battle with diabetes and its related complications. 


Never did she think that she also would develop type 2 diabetes or that she would be a candidate for similar health problems. 


"I don''t have diabetes," she remembered telling her doctor. "Oh, yes, you do," he replied with a subtle laugh. 


Since her diagnosis eight months ago, each day has been an opportunity for learning and for fighting back. Diabetes would not claim or consume her life, she said. 


She began taking oral medications to control her blood sugar and making changes in her diet, including limiting intake of one of her favorite foods- muscadines. Contrary to what she always thought, fruits are not always the best foods to eat, especially for people with diabetes. 


"I want to do whatever it takes to live comfortably with diabetes," Carpenter said, even if that means giving up some foods. "I have to move forward. You have to make those changes when they''re good for you." 


Another lesson: Tailgating at Ole Miss and Mississippi State football games is conducive to great fun, but the foods eaten at these events are usually not conducive to a diabetes-friendly diet. Carpenter''s solution: Incorporate more peanuts into the tailgating goodies. Also, less is more. Moderation is the key, she said. 


Carpenter''s diabetes diagnosis has led to its share of good and bad days, but she maintains that education is the key to healthy diabetes management. 


Together with the Diabetes Foundation, Carpenter hopes to raise awareness and critical funds for awareness initiatives, programs and services around the state. Mississippi''s Walk for Diabetes will do just that. 


"In lieu of presents on my birthday, I asked my friends and family to donate money toward the Walk for Diabetes," Carpenter said. "It was the best birthday present I ever could have asked for." 


On Sunday, Oct. 18, the Golden Triangle Walk for Diabetes will be held at the Riverwalk in downtown Columbus. Registration begins at 1 p.m., with a 2 p.m. walk start. 


"The entire Columbus community has been tremendously supportive," Carpenter said. "In fact, my friend Leslie Watkins, the Columbus Air Force Base Wing Commander Col. Roger Watkins'' wife, has organized a team of officers, officers'' wives and many others. The Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau also is forming a team, and there will be participants from the mayor''s office as well." 


"This is a healthy activity, one that is fun for the whole family. I encourage everyone to form a team with their family, church or workplace. It is vitally important that we raise awareness for one of the most debilitating diseases in Mississippi and in America," she said. "Every dollar raised here in Mississippi stays here in Mississippi, and I truly believe that we have the power to make a difference, one step at a time." 


The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi is the state''s only nonprofit health organization that provides diabetes research, information, patient services and advocacy. 


For more information about the Golden Triangle Walk for Diabetes, visit, or call 662-232-2777.




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