Marsha Greaves
Marsha Greaves

Thinking about a candy bar snack or skipping your walk? I know it is tempting. Before making that choice, think about how limited exercise and healthy food can affect your health for years to come. Many of our neighbors have diabetes. Three times more people east of the river have diabetes than in other parts of the city.

If you or someone in your family or friend group has diabetes, I have some good news for you. You can control your blood sugar levels. Like many patients at Community of Hope’s Conway Health and Resource Center, you can thrive too.

Our patient, Vanessa, is one excellent example.  She first learned that she had diabetes in 2009.  With exercise and a healthy diet, she brought her blood sugar levels down. But a lapse in that routine meant that her diabetes returned.  This second time she is also fighting thyroid cancer and some other health challenges. They make her diabetes harder to control.

After years of struggling with these health setbacks, Vanessa says “I won’t let diabetes take over me, I will take over it!”

Vanessa’s doctor also referred her to our Care Team, a special support for people with diabetes or high blood pressure.  Care Team patients meet with a nurse and a care coordinator to create individual health plans. A healthy diet and exercise are included in the plans. The most helpful skill she has learned is how to portion her meals. But she knows that simply eating healthy does not improve her diabetes. That is why she is excited to combine her healthy diet with exercise.

Care Coordinator Seun Ajayi introduced Vanessa to the Capital Bikeshare program that is available to our Care Team patients. Now she can maintain a healthy and active lifestyle as Capital Bikeshare member.  Vanessa plans to “get rid of diabetes by riding these bikes.” As the spring has arrived, Vanessa uses the bikes more. She rides with her boyfriend and sometimes with her daughter walking beside her.  She plans to use the bikes to ride to her doctors’ appointments across the city.

The Capital Bikeshare program is just one of many extra helps you might enjoy as a Care Team patients at Community of Hope. You may also  use the DC Greens Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program. You can access other critical services: a foot specialist, an eye health specialist, treatment for HIV, nutrition and dental care. You might also get to join a chronic disease support group, which helps you’ll learn with others and provide each other support. One of the best parts of Care Team is our Care Coordinator. They assist you in  setting self-management goals, such as when to take medicine and when to exercise, and they give you special reminders about your next appointment.

“We know our patients want to have healthier habits for themselves and their families. It is my job to be their biggest cheerleader,” said Ajayi.

All our patients and neighbors can get fresh fruits and vegetables at Arcadia Mobile Market from April to October.  Breast cancer screenings are provided by Breast Care for Washington.

Vanessa’s favorite doctors work at Community of Hope. She is grateful for all of the support she gets from the caring staff. She loves the friendly atmosphere. She says “knowing people care, makes you feel 100 percent better” when dealing with many health conditions.

There’s room for you too. Come join us and we’ll cheerlead for you through your healing.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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