CHAMPAIGN — When Angela Reggans was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, her first reaction was fear.
Then she got to work on her diet and started exercising.
"Over time, I realized I had a lot of control over the situation," said Reggans, 38, of Champaign.
One of 11,340 people in Champaign County with diabetes, Reggans helped introduce a new Community Diabetes Coalition at Christie Clinic on Monday.
The coalition is a group of local health care providers and agencies that looked at the diabetes statistics — both local and national — and decided to work together to reduce its negative effects in the community over the next five years.
"When you put all the facts together, diabetes is looming here in Champaign County," said Angela Truelove, a nurse with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and co-chair of the new group.
Some 1.9 million people age 20 and older were diagnosed with diabetes last year in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Type 2 diabetes accounts for at least 90 percent of all cases.
If the current trends continue, one in three adults in the U.S. will have diabetes by 2050, according to the CDC.
The on both individual patients and the U.S. health care system, would be enormous: Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness, kidney failure and amputations of feet and legs that aren't related to accidents or injury, according to the CDC. It's also a major cause of heart disease and stroke and the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.
Martha Paap, director of the Provena Center for Healthy Aging and the other co-chair of the coalition, said the group has put together a resource guide for diabetics in the community and applied for a grant through the Illinois Department of Public Health to provide a diabetes education program.
Reggans said she lost 30 pounds, joined a support group at Christie Clinic and eventually considered her diagnosis both a curse and a blessing. Exercising and eating right — she said she came to realize — were things she should have been doing all along.
Broch Gerling, 41, of Urbana, said the day he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes was the day he gave up his habit of drinking eight to 10 cans of soda a day. In fact, he said, that day was the last day he had a soda.
But Gerling also said he has realized diabetes doesn't have to rob him of a fun, active, healthy life.
Members of the new coalition, along with the Provena Center for Healthy Aging and the public health district, include Christie Clinic, Carle, East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging, Family Service of Champaign County, Frances Nelson Health Center, SmileHealthy, University of Illinois Center for Health, Aging & Disability, and the UI Extension.
The coalition says it plans to train lay people to lead workshops, answer questions and offer support to local diabetics. It is also seeking volunteers willing to complete training and lead future group sessions.
Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Paap at 337-2896 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of the diabetes resource guide (containing information about local support groups, education and diabetes specialists) can also contact Paap at the above phone number and email address.
Newly diagnosed with diabetes? For some advice from Truelove about what to do next, see: http://bit.ly/u02DYo