5 On Your Side

N.C. woman starts support program for women with diabetes

Posted May 20, 2010 5:40 p.m. EDT
Updated May 20, 2010 6:50 p.m. EDT

— Brandy Barnes started Diabetes Sisters, a support group for women with the illness.

“I am a woman with diabetes and I wanted to reach out to other women who have diabetes and found it difficult to do that,” she said.

Diabetes Sisters holds regular support meetings and has an online support forum and buddy program.

Information about diabetes is plentiful, but women in the group said they still felt lonely and isolated.

“Until you've actually met someone who's suffering from the same symptoms, same things every day and battles, it's hard to have someone relate,” member Kelly Turner said.

Diabetes runs in Janet Puryear's family. The illness along with other health complications helped contribute to the premature deaths of her parents, a brother and two aunts.

“So when I was first diagnosed, all I could see was death and sickness. My father had two heart attacks before his death,” she said.

With this group, Puryear is learning about better ways to control her blood sugar and still enjoy a variety of foods.

The group is specifically for women because they experience things that men don't - like diabetes in pregnancy, body image issues and special heart risks.

“There's a lot of hormonal influences in terms of menopause and monthly cycles that all affect sugar control,” said Dr. Jennifer Perkins, an endocrinologist at Duke Hospital.

The group helps women keep their blood sugar under control with diet and exercise - but most of all, it takes isolation out of the equation.

This weekend, people with diabetes can learn more about managing their condition.

The Taking Control of Your Diabetes Conference and Health Fair is Saturday at the Raleigh Convention Center. Pre-registration is closed, but people can still register online for $30.