Diabetes Forecast

Coming Home to Health

How one woman got a wellness jump-start at an ADA Diabetes EXPO

By Katie Bunker ,

Danielle Panetta, a 29-year-old attorney with diabetes, moved home to Kennebunk, Maine, five years ago to take care of her critically ill mother. She left her job to make the move, and she couldn't afford health insurance. With her efforts and her money going toward caring for her mother, Panetta put herself last—and she put her diabetes care last, too. It was only when she began to fear that she had kidney disease that she decided she couldn't wait any longer.

So she visited the American Diabetes Association EXPO in Boston, where she knew she could get kidney screenings, an A1C test, a cholesterol check, and other medical services—completely free of charge. It was the information she received from those screenings that convinced Panetta: She needed to go to the doctor.

"The screenings are so important to people who don't have access," Panetta says. "I got enough information that I decided to bite the bullet and go to the Joslin clinic, which [cost] $785 out of pocket. I don't know that I would have done it without EXPO."

The services available at each EXPO event and the sponsors who provide them vary by location, but may include blood glucose and A1C tests, as well as cholesterol, blood pressure, and kidney screenings. Primary-care providers, pharmaceutical companies, area hospitals, and local diabetes care clinics present additional information on diabetes care and technology. Podiatrists may be on site to conduct foot exams, and various other medical professionals are available to answer general diabetes and health questions.

"EXPO provides the most comprehensive array of diabetes-related products, services, and information available under one roof," says Michelle Knight, associate director of youth programs and Diabetes EXPO. "An ADA Diabetes EXPO is for all people affected by diabetes, and anyone interested in healthy eating and active living."

While many people visit EXPO for the screenings, others come for valuable tips and information about diabetes management, nutrition, exercise, and advocacy, as well as about youth programs. At one booth a registered dietitian may conduct cooking demonstrations. The Family Fun Zone provides resources for kids with diabetes and their families.

Panetta says that learning about her ill health was just the push she needed to make a change. Formerly 350 pounds, she lost 100 with good diet and exercise, and an additional 90 through gastric bypass surgery. Someone who used to forgo blood glucose testing for three weeks at a time, Panetta will now test as many as five times during a three-hour-long gym session. She is logging hours of training for a marathon and three triathalons already on her calendar this year.

"A lot of it had to do with shaking myself and [deciding to] take better care of myself," Panetta says. "No matter what, I'm going to be a diabetic, but you can choose to be a victim or to be a survivor. Once you know where you're at, it gives you courage to be a survivor."

See for Yourself

Want to know if there's a Diabetes EXPO near you this month? Check out these dates and look for updates on our calendar online at forecast.diabetes.org/resources/calendar.
• Hartford, Conn., Saturday, April 18: Connecticut Expo Center
• Seattle, Saturday, April 18: Qwest Event Center
• Chicago, Saturday, April 25:Navy Pier
• Los Angeles, Saturday, April 25: Long Beach Convention Center



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