Patti LaBelle, A Champion for Diabetes
Her notes on living well
Each soulful, crystalline note of “Over the Rainbow” resounded in the hush that settled over the bustling convention hall. The scene: the American Diabetes Association’s Chicago EXPO®. The diva: legendary entertainer Patti LaBelle, enthralling a standing-room-only crowd with her powerful voice and her passion for living well with diabetes.
The song brought LaBelle full circle: Nearly 20 years ago, LaBelle, now 70, passed out on stage during a New York City performance. She was treated for extremely high blood glucose and found out she was living with type 2 diabetes. LaBelle’s mother had died from diabetes-related complications. Still, like many people, LaBelle was surprised by her own diagnosis.
Today, LaBelle is a shining example of integrating healthy changes into life—while navigating the bumps along her own yellow brick road. She’s vocal about encouraging people to focus on healthy eating. She still loves to cook for family and friends, has penned numerous cookbooks with celebrity friends, and has launched a spicy collection of Patti’s Good Life sauces, available online and in select Walmart stores. She is a member of the American Diabetes Association’s Celebrity Cabinet and uses her fame to share the Stop Diabetes® message. In 2014, LaBelle appeared at the American Diabetes Association’s EXPO Chicago and EXPO Atlanta and Step Out®: Walk to Stop Diabetes® in Philadelphia.
Over the years, LaBelle has used various diabetes medications and her hectic but healthy lifestyle to manage her blood glucose levels. “As long as I control diabetes, it doesn’t control me,” she says. “I plan to live for years!” As a Grammy Award–winning singer, author, actress, and businesswoman, LaBelle’s life is never routine. But she fits in physical activity (walking her dogs and swimming are favorite pursuits) whenever she can.LaBelle’s suggestions for people living with diabetes are sensible and to the point: Take care of yourself, eat healthful foods, get some exercise, and listen to your doctor. She doesn’t demand perfection, but she also makes no room for excuses. “You can lead a normal, wonderful life!” she says, barely pausing for breath before she delights the audience with another signature song.