Live. Work. Play: Simintha’s Diabetes Story

By American Diabetes Association

Working for the American Diabetes Association® means making a difference for millions of people and working toward a future free of diabetes and all its burdens.

We all have a story to share. Some of us live with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes or prediabetes. Others have loved ones with the disease or have lost someone to the fight.

The following are personal stories from the Association’s staff about why we are so committed to the mission to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.

Simintha Esson
National Director, Corporate Alliances
Home Office (Alexandria, Va.)

On Wednesday, March 5, 2014, my father lost his fight to type 2 diabetes. When I received the call, my world was immediately turned upside down. I felt like I had been destroyed! The painful numbness of hurt filled my soul and I was beside myself with guilt, anger and confusion.

My father was affected by this disease for more than two decades. But unlike with other illnesses, he seemed just fine. There were no clear physical signs that my dad’s body was being demolished each day by this silent killer called diabetes. It wasn’t until about nine years ago that the snowball hit and everything started to change. He lost sensation in his limbs and developed other major complications to the point that, while only in his mid-40s, he could not walk.

The remaining five years of his life were spent in and out of assisted living homes and emergency rooms. I hate diabetes because it took my dad from me way too soon! He was only 52 and I still needed him. I miss him every day! Every time I need some advice or I want to share things about my day or just hear him call me “a big knuckle head,” my heart breaks because I will never have those moments with him again.

I’ll be honest. Before I began working at the American Diabetes Association’s Chicago office in 2008, I had no clue how to help my dad. We unknowingly replaced sugary foods with foods that were high in sodium and saturated fat, none of which were good for my dad. We had no clue these foods were not good choices for him. I think this is a common mistake people make when they don’t have access to diabetes education.

I know working with the Association helped extend my dad’s days because of the information and resources I got here and shared with him. Our visits changed from me bringing him some fried chicken to me bringing him pears, which he loved.

After I lost my dad, I decided to run the Chicago Marathon in his honor. I ran those 26.2 miles not only to honor him and raise funds for the Association, but also to inspire others who are going through the same situation. I strongly believe that if more people understood this disease, they could do something about it before it’s too late.

Every day that I work here and hear the stories and meet the people in the community who are going through similar situations, I am renewed. My dad used to tell me he was proud of me and the work I do here. His words drive me every day. I share my story with you not because I want pity, but because I want action.

Together, we can all make a difference. Stop Diabetes®!

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