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“In order for us to deal effectively with diabetes, there is need for even more collaborations. Diabetes needs a full-time education programme; you can’t deal with diabetes unless you are educated.”By Sharmain GraingerGlynis Alonzo-Beaton is a ‘Special Person’According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, diabetes is a disease which causes the body to produce too little insulin or insulin that cannot be used normally, resulting in high levels of sugar in the blood.It can therefore be concluded that the impact of this disease can be far-reaching when one’s health is taken into consideration. In fact, the World Health Organisation has surmised that since diabetes is characterised by elevated blood sugar, it is a chronic, metabolic disease which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. Essentially, diabetes-related complications can result in death.Based on data out of the Ministry of Public Health, as at last year there were more than 50,000 people living in Guyana with diabetes, and that number is likely to be on the increase.Among those currently living with diabetes is Glynis Alonzo-Beaton. Standing at six-foot, three inches, she not only looks like a fighter, but she lives the part every day in her quest to combat a disease that unsuspectingly invaded her body several years ago.But she has not only been fighting for herself, rather, Alonzo-Beaton has been helping to teach others inflicted with the disease to fight for themselves too.DEVASTATEDShe was first diagnosed with type-one diabetes in 1992. She was just 22 years old at the time. In fact it was shortly after she gave birth to the first of her three children, Dońa, that she developed the disease.Type-one diabetes usually occurs when enough insulin is not produced, thus resulting in high blood sugar levels. Other types of diabetes include: type-two – where the body does not use insulin properly, and then there is gestational diabetes which can develop in a woman when she is pregnant. The latter type is known to disappear after pregnancy.But since type-one diabetes is an immune disorder, Alonzo-Beaton, during a recent interview disclosed that she was insulin-dependent.Always armed with her Dex 4 (fast acting glucose tablets)However, she, like the many people inflicted with the disease, was devastated when she first learnt that she had diabetes. At that point she hadn’t the will-power to wage war.“I was very upset to learn that I was a diabetic, because I knew of my father’s condition as a diabetic and immediately I knew what it could lead to. He was a late onset diabetic and from the time he was diagnosed he was on insulin, and so I just hated being diagnosed with diabetes,Wholesale Jerseys Supply,” Alonzo-Beaton reflected.While it is believed that a low-carb diet can help to cure type-two diabetes, to date there have been no reports of a cure for type-one. Moreover, Alonzo-Beaton was gradually forced to accept her condition.And since she wanted to live and not die due to diabetes complications, she decided to at least try to ward off possible complications. This saw her attempting to rid her diet of all sugars. In fact she was able to maintain this radical change for two years following her diagnosis. But there wasn’t much available information for her to draw from.‘HONEYMOON’It seemed that her effort was enough to reverse her condition. This was in light of the fact that after giving birth to her second child, Keziah, diabetes miraculous disappeared from Alonzo-Beaton’s body.She would, however, later learn that her diabetes had entered what is called a ‘honeymoon phase’. Her body was again able to produce significant amounts of insulin on its own. But this she would eventually come to know was not an unusual occurrence in the body of a recently diagnosed diabetic“For three years after my second child was born, my blood sugar was 70 whenever I checked,” Alonzo-Beaton recalled. But she would awake one day to find that her blood sugar was a soaring 375. Her diabetes was back with a vengeance.She still wasn’t prepared to struggle with a life-long ailment.“I did not take very good care of myself during those years…I was thinking of diabetes as a disease for old people, not for me,” Alonzo-Beaton said. She nevertheless sought some help from the Guyana Diabetic Association, but wasn’t too keen on getting caught up with such an institution. She was supposed to be living life to the fullest.In fact she had a rounded managerial career and was very much involved in the work of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) which she joined in 2003.As a member of the YWCA she developed a passion for women’s issues and was even a big crusader against gun-related violence. She was able to travel to many countries including Palestine where she was able to fulfil her dream of seeing Yasser Arafat, a Palestine who became globally popular for heading a violent border dispute with Israel. In fact, following her visit to Palestine, which was very restricted because of the border issue, she developed a healthy respect for her freedom here in Guyana.Embracing her passion to share diabetes information.As part of her YWCA involvement, Alonzo-Beaton was also able to travel to Kenya, Canada and other countries.But though she was a vibrant YWCA member, after a few years she was forced to limit her involvement, since some of the principles of the organisation clashed with her religious principles. She was raised a Jehovah’s Witness and her YWCA role caused her to be on the verge of becoming a complete outcast from her religious association.Though torn between her advocacy work and religion, she opted for the latter, severing ties with the YWCA altogether in 2010.“I had to get back to my God, so that was my biggest reason for leaving,” Alonzo-Beaton recounted.But little did she know that things were simply unfolding the way they were intended to.By then she had already given birth to Nkosi,Authentic NFL Jerseys From China, her third child,Cheap Jerseys From China, and was developing some diabetes-related complications such as neuropathy – a condition that manifests when the sensory nerves start to deteriorate. It is characterised by tingling pain and weakness in the feet and hands.Alonzo-Beaton felt it more in her feet, but was not prepared to lose those precious assets.“I started to take stock,” she said, as she recalled that it was at this juncture she decided to fully embrace the support of the Guyana Diabetic Association.Before long she had completed a diabetes education programme for non-medical professionals in Jamaica. She was able to learn a great deal about her condition and understandably wanted to learn even more. There was more to learn from the American Diabetes Association scientific sessions which she was able to attend in the United States.The sessions are intended to raise awareness on a range of diabetes-related issues ranging from complications and how to deal with them, to scientific breakthroughs that emerge.In fact, since participating in her first session, Alonzo-Beaton, at her own expense, has been travelling to the United States annually to participate. This year was an exception because of the deaths of her firstborn and a sister.But even this daunting time of her life did not cause her to waver in fight against diabetes.FIGHTERKnowledge became power to Alonzo-Beaton. She accepted that she hadn’t a choice but to harness her way of life and focus on suppressing the incurable disease she so dreaded in the inception.Her fierceness to control the disease would earn her much acclaim, so much so that in 2007 she was elected President of the Guyana Diabetic Association, a position she still holds today.With such a prominent position in the Association, she recognised that the fight was not only to save her life alone, but the many others who were similarly inflicted and were dependent on the Association for support. Sharing what she learned with the membership of the Association was simply not enough; she wanted to do so much more.She took her fight to the Health Ministry where she advocated for better treatment to be offered to diabetics.  But she didn’t stop there, she started to reach out to individuals and organisations further afield. In so doing, she became affiliated with the International Diabetic Federation (IDF) through which overwhelming support for diabetes in Guyana became possible.IDF is a global advocate for people with diabetes, with a mission to promote diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide.Displaying insulin, one of her greatest needs as a type-one diabeticShe was even able to become a member of the Caribbean Diabetic Association and currently is the Chair-elect for the North-American Caribbean Region. As a result, she is poised to serve on the Board of IDF in the coming year.It was because of her advocacy that the local Diabetic Association became the avenue through which an organisation – Insulin for Life USA – started to channel treatment support to help address diabetes in Guyana. Moreover, the 200-odd members are able to source insulin, strips, needles and other related treatment needs from the Association.  There are plans to extend the Association’s reach to Berbice and Essequibo in the future.But while treatment is important, Alonzo-Beaton has long recognised that one of the primary challenges of diabetes is that of complications.“One of our biggest complications in Guyana,Cheap NFL Jerseys China, outside of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension, is kidney failure,” said Alonzo-Beaton, as she considered the thousands of people who are diagnosed with diabetes annually.Of course over the years she sought to learn as much as possible about diabetes complications. “I wanted to know how you can reduce complications onset, how you can work with complications, because if you get it, you have got to work with it somehow,” she asserted.She, along with others, usually raises awareness about diabetes whenever the Association convenes its monthly meeting on the last Wednesday in every month at 17:00 hours (5pm) at the Charlotte and Alexander Streets, Georgetown Nursing Association Hall building.  Although efforts are made to help raise awareness during meetings, the Association also facilitates some outreaches to advance such efforts.Alonzo-Beaton has noted, though, that in order to tackle the scourge of diabetes, there is need for crucial and deliberate collaborations.  While the Association has been able to forge partnerships with the Ministry of Public Health through its Chronic Diseases Department and the Pan American Health Organisation, she underscored that “in order for us to deal effectively with diabetes, there is need for even more collaborations. Diabetes needs a full-time education programme; you can’t deal with diabetes unless you are educated,” she asserted.She has learnt too that raising awareness about diet is a major part of a diabetes education drive. According to Alonzo-Beaton, since there is no designated diabetic meal, what is of importance to a diabetic patient is portion counting.“You can eat anything you want as a diabetic, but you just have to work with a dietician and learn how to properly portion your food,” she emphasized.She knows this all too well, because over the years she became a master at counting her portions so as to ensure that she controls her diabetes infliction, so that it isn’t allowed to control her daily life.But given the fact that she is still a very busy executive at the Reunion manganese company, Alonzo-Beaton sometimes lapses with her portions. On days when her blood sugar drops and hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar sets in, she is always armed with Dex 4, a fast-acting glucose tablet. She simply takes a tablet and it swiftly helps to restore an acceptable sugar level.RESILIENCEAlthough willpower has been one of the main drivers that prevented her from bowing to diabetes, the resilience of the family she was born into might have also had something to do with it.But according to Alonzo-Beaton, “sometimes I think I am too strong a woman, and sometimes it works against me. I am somebody who is very passionate in what I believe in and I wouldn’t take no for an answer…I will go to the end for what I believe in and I wouldn’t compromise.”Her husband Colin Beaton is her biggest cheerleader.Born Glynis Kathleen Lucille Alonzo to parents Kennedy and Joan Alonzo on February 17, 1968, in Georgetown, she was the second of six children. She was, however, raised in the mining town of Linden. Although hers was a very modest upbringing, her family was always giving and hardworking and insisted that each of its members embraced these traits.She attended the Mackenzie All-Age Primary School before moving on to the Wismar/Christianburg Multilateral, the Linden Foundation High and then the Mackenzie High School.At a forum to help raise awarenessAfter her secondary years, she pursued studies at the Government Technical Institute and then she entered the world of work.Although she was privileged to work at a number of organisations,Cheap NFL Jerseys, Alonzo-Beaton is convinced that the work experience she gained at Guyana Mining Enterprise (GUYMINE), which was a state-owned mining enterprise, helped to further build her as a strong individual.“I started as a data entry clerk, but your work had to be professional, it had to be of a certain standard, and I really credit my dedication and drive to work today to the foundation I got from my family and working there,” said Alonzo-Beaton.And it is with similar drive and vigour, she intends to spearhead this year’s observance of World Diabetes Month which kicks off this evening with a lavish ‘sapphire and ice’-themed gala scheduled for the Ramada/Princess Hotel. The event, complete with a dinner, lectures and an exhibition, will serve as a prelude to World Diabetes Day which is commemorated globally on November 14.Likely to be included in the month-long celebration is a grand exhibition on November 25 which should see the Association partnering with several organisations. The latter will represent yet another idea of Alonzo-Beaton to help raise awareness about diabetes.And so it is for her unreserved dedication throughout the years, to not only diligently battle diabetes, but to help others along the way that Glynis Alonzo-Beaton is today being recognised as our ‘Special Person’.
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