There's always opportunity for laughter, even as you're learning to cope with a diabetes diagnosis. Humor is a big part of an upcoming Muskegon conference focusing on the disease. The 11th annual African American Beating Diabetes Community Health Conference will take place from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1 at Muskegon Heights High School. Early registration and breakfast begin at 8 a.m. The event is put on by the Health Project, a community benefit ministry of Mercy Health. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a sponsor. Comedian J. Anthony Brown reprises his role from last year as the keynote speaker. His lighthearted look at living with diabetes starts at 10:15 a.m., and will be followed by a question and answer session with the radio personality. Brown was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1996 and heads the J. Anthony Brown Foundation, an organization that helps kids dealing with juvenile diabetes attend summer camp programs to learn to manage their disease. MiMi Rankin, Diabetes Coordinator at the Health Project, said Brown’s story resonates with people dealing with diabetes. “Most people when they get diabetes, they think it’s a death sentence, but it’s not,” she said. “Laughter is one of the things that keeps us sane and stops us from worrying.” The conference focuses on African Americans dealing with diabetes due to a disproportionate occurrence of the disease among this demographic. Diabetes can lead to kidney failure, nerve and eye disease, amputations and arteriosclerosis. It can also contribute to heart attack and stroke. In Muskegon County, the reported incidence rate of African Americans diagnosed with the disease is at 10.6 percent, while white populations in the county are at 8.7 percent. African Americans are also more likely to develop kidney failure due to diabetes – rates of African Americans with kidney failure in Muskegon County were almost three times higher than white patients. Risk factors such as being overweight, obesity and hypertension are also disproportionately higher for African Americans than they are for whites. Rankin said diet and exercise are likely a factor as well as lack of access to health care and information. Conference presenters aim to spread the word about many facets of diabetes care in a fun, relaxed atmosphere in the heart of the community who most need to hear it. On-site health screenings will be available and breakout sessions will cover topics such as hypertension, nutrition and cooking with a demonstration, diabetes maintenance, and juvenile diabetes. The event is free to the public and no early registration is required. Plan to attend this year’s conference for the laughs and the learning! Photo credit: Fotos GOVBA
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