Rev. Run And Vanessa Simmons Discuss The Importance Of Diabetes Screening

July 7, 2015  |  

There’s a disease affecting millions of Americans, and roughly 3 in 10 don’t even realize they have it.

Tell me, when’s the last time you got screened for diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious disease that claims the life of one American every three minutes. In fact, more people die from this silent killer than breast cancer and AIDS combined. The American Diabetes Association reveals African-Americans are almost twice as likely to have diabetes than whites. These are scary numbers that deserve all of our attention.

Rev. Run and his family are on a mission to spread the message of the importance of early detection when it comes to diabetes. They teamed up with Novo Nordisk, a global health care company, for Ask. Screen. Know., a campaign that challenges individuals and families to take the Diabetes Risk Factor Assessment, and discover more ways to live a healthier life.

“You can’t fix what you don’t know,” says Rev. Run. “Many people are hiding. They don’t want to get checked and they don’t want to know.”

“I didn’t know the risk of having diabetes while pregnant, and what happens when left untreated,” adds Vanessa Simmons. Last year, the entrepreneur and her longtime boyfriend welcomed daughter Ava Marie Jean Wayans on Valentine’s Day.

MommyNoire recently caught up with Rev. Run and Vanessa to discuss the importance of diabetes screening and how it can impact an expecting mother’s pregnancy.

Mommynoire: Reverend Run, how did you first get involved with the campaign?

My manger, Mike Lehman’s father had diabetes. We were talking about it and I told him,”you know what, my father had diabetes.” He was talking to Novo Nordisk and they had a campaign they were putting together called Ask. Screen. Know. I went and had a meeting with them  and told them about my history with my dad. We decided we would partner up and talk to people about risk factors.

Vanessa, what motivated you to learn about risk while you were pregnant — aside from your grandfather having the disease?

Having a history of type 2 diabetes in my family made me want to be involved — and watching my dad with this campaign. When I was pregnant, I didn’t know the risk of having diabetes being left untreated, and how it can affect your entire body — even your unborn child. I definitely made it a priority to be screened while I was pregnant and to regularly get screened now. I really want to encourage other young women like myself, that might be at risk, to get screened and to know their status.

Diabetes is a big problem in the African-American community. What advice do you have for blacks with regards to screening and addressing this disease

Rev. Run: You have to know your risks. Obviously, African-Americans and being over 45 have a higher risk, but I think everyone should get checked — including people Vanessa’s age. The Ask. Screen. Know. website can help people understand what their risks are along with other tips. It’s just been our thing here at the Simmons family to tell people, you know what, you need to be checked. Sometimes you go to the doctors and think you get the whole works done, but forget this important screening.

Vanessa, what advice would you give to others thinking about becoming a parent when it comes to their health?

You definitely need to be actively involved when it comes to your health. Take the Diabetes Risk Factor Assessment to know where you stand. The earlier you know something, the earlier you can do something.

Has anyone in the Simmons family been diagnosed with diabetes?

Rev. Run: Only my dad who passed. He didn’t pass from complications. No one in our family has diabetes, but we’re aware of our risks because of the history of my dad having it. That sent up a red flag for us all. We’re gonna keep an eye it on, eat right, exercise and take care of ourselves to help prevent getting diabetes. We want to tell people about it because a lot of people in our neighborhood and community have diabetes. It’s been rewarding because people are checking and getting screened — my friends, my cousins and fans.

What are some things you guys do to prevent diabetes?

Vanessa: I always aim to keep a healthy lifestyle that includes exercising. That’s definitely in my regimen. I try my best to eat as healthy as I can.

Are there any final words you would like to share?

Rev. Run: The best thing you can do is get checked. If you have diabetes, you can be proactive. It’s something that can be tamed. If you don’t have diabetes, you can make sure you take the preventative measures. What you don’t know you can’t fix. Please don’t be afraid to find out your risk factors.

Vanessa: I definitely want to empower people to know their risks, go on the website and take the assessment. It’s better to know where you stand and how you can make it different.

To learn more about diabetes and your risk factors, visit Ask. Screen. Know.

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