Claudette Madison Gets Educated
In honor of Diabetes Forecast magazine’s 70th anniversary, we’re profiling people whose lives have been touched by diabetes—and who have touched the diabetes community.
Throughout 1994, Claudette Madison struggled with fatigue. She attributed it to the stresses of her job as a trucker but soon learned she had type 2 diabetes.
Madison’s doctor prescribed metformin, but Madison quickly discovered that wasn’t enough to bring her blood glucose down to target levels. Soon she was also taking 120 units of insulin a day, but her A1C hovered around 11 percent.
Madison’s life finally turned around in 2011, when she began seeing an endocrinologist who put her on a low-calorie diet and emphasized the importance of exercise. “I started walking two blocks, then three blocks, then four blocks,” says Madison, now 65, who lives in Valley Mills, Texas. “Immediately I started feeling better.” She also enrolled in a diabetes self-management education course and began working with a nutritionist, who taught her to count carbohydrates and choose lower-carb foods.
As she worked toward a healthier lifestyle, her weight dropped from 260 to 179 pounds. In 2013, Madison was taken off insulin entirely, and she now manages her diabetes with oral medications.
That year, she also began the next step in her diabetes journey: helping others with the disease. What began as a volunteer gig for the ADA’s Step Out® Walk to Stop Diabetes® fundraising event evolved into something more. Last year, she was invited to speak at a seminar on exercise and health at Baylor University’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. “The groups [in attendance] were so impressed that [Baylor University] sponsored the walk in my honor,” she says. “I was on top of the world. It was like getting an Oscar.”
That’s not all. Knowing how diet and exercise can help people with prediabetes avoid developing type 2, Madison has made it her mission to help people learn about their diabetes risk, speaking to church groups and even appearing on the local news. She also hands out copies of the ADA’s Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test at local events and restaurants.
Madison hopes that her own example can show people with diabetes that lifestyle changes can improve their health. “I’ve had so many people look at my before-and-after pictures and say that can’t be me, but it is,” she says. “You have to work hard at it, but if you do, you’ll get where you want to be.”