Blessed Assurance: Success Despite the Odds

by Jacquie Lewis-Kemp, Author & Health Coach for Living life with diabetes and organ transplants, rather than limiting life because of them.

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Bernando LaPallo

Hard to argue health best practices with a man 109 years old! Sounds like something you just listen and learn from. Enjoy this recipe, visit his website and consider his book.










The Benefits of Weight Loss

Reprinted from

Weight loss is a common recommendation for treatment for type 2 diabetes. Many people are overweight when they’re first diagnosed, and that extra fat actually increases their insulin resistance (when their bodies can’t properly use the hormone insulin).

By losing weight, people with type 2 diabetes can become less insulin resistant, and they’re able to use insulin better. (To learn more about how the hormone insulin works, read our article on how insulin regulates blood glucose levels.)

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and you’re overweight, you should get started as soon as possible on a weight loss plan. It is important to work with a registered dietitian to help you figure out a plan that will work for you—a healthy meal plan, physical activity, and realistic goals will help you reach a healthy weight.

Our eNewsletters can also help you take steps towards a healthy lifestyle with type 2 diabetes. Get meal planning and exercise tips, plus advice from leading specialists in the Diabetes Advisor. Or get easy, delicious diabetes-friendly recipes delivered straight to your inbox with the Diabetic Recipes eNewsletter.

There are many advantages to losing weight (and not just diabetes-related ones):

You may be interested in these related articles:

  • Boost your energy level

  • Lower your cholesterol levels (especially important for people with type 2 diabetes)

  • Protect your heart (also important for people with diabetes, since heart-related complications are very common)

  • Make it easier to control your blood glucose level

As you may already know, losing weight can be a challenge, but don’t let that stop you. Do whatever you need to in order to stay motivated.

It is the amount of calories we eat that contributes to weight gain. Make small changes. Learn portion sizes and reduce the amount of snacks in your day to reduce the total amount of calories you consume each day. Find cookbooks with healthier recipes using low-fat options. For a little fun, take our carb counting quiz to see how well you know the carb content of certain foods; this can help you make healthier choices.

Work with a registered dietitian who specializes in diabetes to help you set reasonable goals.


Kidney Transplant


Christmastime is when most of us decorate our homes and invite family and friends over to overeat, laugh and catch up on what has been going on since the last time the group was together.  If you have lost a loved one it is also a time when we remember Christmases past and the fun times we shared.

When I lost my father he was just 52 years old and there was a list of people that I felt God could have taken instead of my father.  Each holiday felt like my shopping list was so short–even though there was only one name removed.  My father-in-law perhaps suffered the most. His birthday was the same day as my father’s. We’d have a birthday dinner for both of them and I would buy similar gifts in different colors–it was fun. But after my father died, I couldn’t bring myself to shop for September 23.

Finally I rationalized in my mind that I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself about having lost my father.  There were many women that I knew who would never know what it was like to have a father like mine.  The old saying that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, is hard to grasp–AND SOMETHING YOU NEVER WANT TO HEAR RIGHT AFTER LOSING SOMEONE.  But in time, I got it.   The impact of my father’s love for me has lasted me and I believe will continue to last for the rest of my life. People (particularly my son) are probably so tired of hearing me say, “What my father used to say about that is . . .”

It’s a good thing that I learned that lesson before losing my mother.  By this time I had received the Gift of Life twice and survived the West Nile virus.  And so what brought me peace was that “things” were not my mother nor did they represent her. But the impact that she had on my life and the lives of so many others, is her legacy.

My brother and I were also fortunate in that  we were able to carry out her final wishes and that was to donate her organs to people who needed them. It is interesting that we did not discuss her wishes during or after our kidney transplant.  But we both knew growing up that both our parents wanted to donate their organs–it was something that they discussed with us as children.

We missed the opportunity when our father died, however we were able to oblige our mother.  Even though it wasn’t my organs that were donated, that we completed my mother’s wishes, felt like I was paying it forward.  One day I will ACTUALLY pay it forward since I am a registered organ donor.

Even though they are not likely to use my brother’s transplanted kidney in my body or my new pancreas, I don’t want to make a medical decision that I’m not qualified to make.  The way I figure it, let me donate the organs when I’m through with them and let the doctors decide who may be able to use them.




Kidney Transplant


Kidney Transplant


For those awaiting Kidney Transplant, listen to these transplant experiences and prepare for your own.  For those who are donors or are potentially donors listen to this wonderful series of second chance at life stories.











The Gift of Life

A transplant is an amazing gift that deserves to be honored in every way possible. This means making a commitment to protecting your transplant.



Help Prevent Transplant Rejection

As amazing as your immune system is, it unfortunately can’t tell the difference between a harmful germ and a life-saving transplant. For this reason, you must take immunosuppressants to prevent your body from attacking your new organ. Taking them diligently, as intended for you by your doctor, is one of the most important ways you can help ensure the long-term success of your transplant.

Help to Prevent Skin Cancer

In addition to increasing your chance of infection, your immunosuppressants may increase your risk of cancer—particularly, skin cancer. In fact, compared to the general population, transplant recipients are 65-250 times more likely to develop non-melanoma skin cancer and 2-8 times more likely to develop melanoma skin cancer.1 Fortunately, it’s easy to learn the signs of skin cancer and the steps you can take to lower your risk. Visit the Your Skin page under the Healthy Body section of!

Help Prevent Infection2

Because your immunosuppressants work to suppress your immune response, you may be at increased risk for developing certain infections. For certain infections, vaccines provide a critical line of defense against this possibility of infection. If you are currently living with a transplant, keeping up with your vaccinations will help you fight new and changing viruses. Early vaccination pre-transplant is key to fighting certain infections well into the years post-transplant.

Vaccines come in either live form or inactivated form; some (eg, flu shots) are available both ways. Administration of live vaccines post-transplant is considered risky, and usually not recommended; ideally, you will have completed them at least four weeks prior to your transplant procedure. Depending on the amount of time scheduled before your transplantation, you may wish to work with your doctor to develop an optimal vaccination strategy. If necessary, inactivated vaccines can be administered after your transplant procedure, along with your annual post-transplant vaccinations.

(reprinted from Transplant Experience eNewsletter Inspire, November 2011)


Holiday Remembrance

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Haley Funeral Directors' Tree of Remembrance

What better way to thank the families who have entrusted their loved ones with the

Haley Funeral Directors service than to adorn the funeral home Tree of

Remembrance with photos of their loved ones.


Diabetes is a patient managed disease. While doctors measure blood glucose and average glucose levels over 3 months (HbA1C), they are measuring in order to give you, the diabetic patient, feedback on whether your efforts are working to control your diabetes. Doctors also check for long term complications and whether other treatment is necessary to avoid the long term complication or to treat them. Beyond those activities, doctors really cannot control diabetes–only you can.

Let me say it again, DOCTORS CANNOT MANAGE YOUR DIABETES!  Your actions and your commitment to managing this complicated disease will in large part determine your health. The best endocrinologists, internists, specialists and educators cannot control your diabetes, only you can.

But don’t get me wrong, physicians are absolutely key in your diabetes management system. Your best source of how well you’ve been managing your diabetes is likely from your physician. While that information is about past performance, your doctor should recommend ways to improve your glucose control, whether it is diet changes, exercise changes or medication changes.

Another source of good coaching is from diabetes educators who perhaps have more time to teach strategy and technique for glucose control. Education is always key whether you are talking about diabetes or technology–understanding leads to better ability to control.

Having said that, take it upon yourself to map out a way to control your glucose levels as you navigate the sticky road through the holidays. Plan how you will handle company parties, charity functions, family gatherings, and full days of non-stop shopping. Overeating is not the only complication of the season. Forgetting to eat, or not having access to a healthy meal is another. And that is why planning is key.

Also, don’t forget to get some exercise. Unless we’re winter sports fans, it is easy to become sedentary and work behind a computer all day and watch television all night. Plan some exercise, even if it is walking from the back of the mall parking lot, doing laps at the mall or marching up and down a flight stairs in your home or at work 7 times!

Burn those carbohydrates by dancing!


Holiday drinking while diabetic. Helpful or harmful? Truth is that it is a complex issue.

It certainly depends on a diabetic’s understanding of how alcohol affects the body and how well the diabetic can control his or her glucose levels.


Test your knowledge and follow these guidelines from dLife this holiday season.