Syndee West wanted to enroll in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program with her father, but his disease was too advanced for the program, which serves people with prediabetes.
“My dad didn’t qualify, but he was so encouraging,” West says. “He told me to go for it, learn everything you can and bring back tidbits of information for me.”
Frank West struggled with diabetes, and he hoped his daughter, 49, would stave off the disease. She began the year-long group program in January 2019.
“My dad was my motivator because I was noticing how diabetes was affecting him,” she says. “Honestly, I had not paid enough attention to my signs and symptoms of rising blood sugar.”
Just a little more than a month into West’s enrollment in the program, Frank died of complications from diabetes. It was devastating for West, who had anticipated working together to stay healthy.
West leaned on the other participants in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program while she grieved. But she never thought of leaving the program; her father’s death simply made her more committed to reversing her own risk and being a role model for her relatives.
“I vowed to not ever forget that my dad died of complications from diabetes and I need to take better care of myself — for my kids and grandkids,” she says. “I need to do this for him.”
West had significant risk factors. In addition to her family history, West had gestational diabetes when she was pregnant with her youngest child. She was overweight and she could feel her blood sugar spikes. She started to worry when her vision started changing and she felt neuropathy in her feet. Then, West’s doctor told her she was prediabetic.
Her participation in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program has changed everything.
Since starting the program, she has lost 26 pounds. Her blood sugar levels are on the decline and she feels better.
“It’s working,” West says. “The classes keep me focused and on track. The camaraderie, the pats on the back and the group interactions keep me going. It’s a lifeline for me and I want others to know that it can be a lifeline for them. It truly changes lives.”
Contact the Eugene YMCA at 541-686-9622 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about its Diabetes Prevention Program.