I took advantage of a great opportunity to chat with Emmy and Golden Globe-Winning Actress S. Epatha Merkerson, who is actually known as the longest running character for her portrayal of a tough police lieutenant on the now-syndicated TV show “Law & Order.” Yep, talk about a memorable interview experience you can feel the elegance and pose in her voice for a cause she is passionate about.
Did you know? S. Epatha wants to use her notoriety to help get the word out by helping so many – especially African Americans—because diabetes has become a significant health concern — making it the fourth leading cause of death in the African-American community.
Merkerson has now teamed up with Merck on America’s Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals to raise awareness among African Americans with type 2 diabetes about the importance of their A1C (average blood sugar over the past two to three months). Type 2 diabetes is a significant health concern in the African-American community. It’s a fact 13.2% of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have been diagnosed with diabetes.
As a part of the program, Merkerson is encouraging African Americans with type 2 diabetes to work with their doctor to come up with the right treatment plan to achieve their blood sugar goals, including diet, exercise and medication, if appropriate. Be sure to check out the attached video of our conversation or transcribed version below:
“I’d like to introduce award winning actress, S. Epatha Merskerson. She’s had an outstanding career in television, theater and film but many people don’t know she is one of the millions of African Americans living with Diabetes. During Black History Month, we take a moment to look at one of the biggest health concerns facing African Americans, which is Type 2 Diabetes. S. Epatha Merkerson joins us now on behalf of Merck to talk about the condition and how she is encouraging others with the disease to reach their blood sugar goals through America’s Diabetes Challenge.”
TradinaDeMary: S. Epatha, can you tell my Baltimore readership about your personal experience with Type 2 Diabetes?
S. Epatha Merskerson: Yes. I found out when I was 50 that I had Type 2 Diabetes and was a bit overwhelmed by it even though I have a family history of Type 2 Diabetes. I lost my dad to complications. My grandmother lost her sight and my brother has just been going thru some major medical changes because of Type 2 Diabetes.
TradinaDeMary: So you’re involved in America’s Diabetes Challenge to educate those with Type 2 Diabetes about their blood sugar goals. Can you tell us more about that and how it impacts the African-American community?
S. Epatha Merskerson: Sure. You know there is nearly 20% of adult African Americans that’s like almost 5 million people who suffer with Type 2 Diabetes. So with the America’s Diabetes Challenge, my connecting with Merck on this, we’re trying to encourage those people, to, with diabetes like me with Type 2 Diabetes to know what their A1C number is. You know as a diabetic, we take our blood sugar twice a day. That tells us what’s happening at that moment. But the A1C test allows your doctor or healthcare provider to see how you’re managing your blood sugar levels for a 2 to 3 month period. And this way, it allows your doctor to help you come up with a treatment plan that will allow you to reach an A1C goal that’s healthy. And that healthy percentage should be about 7% or less your blood sugar level. And you know, it’s really about making lifestyle changes as well. And that’s what I had to do. We worked on; I literally sat down with my doctor to talk about food. How I was eating. What I was eating. When I was eating. We discussed exercise. Instead of getting on the bus, or taking the subway because I live in New York why don’t you walk the 20 blocks. There are ways that we can manage our diabetes and I think that’s the most important thing that I would like to say to our communities specifically is that this is a way to be proactive in your health.
TradinaDeMary: Ok. Aside from America’s Diabetes Challenge, what else have you been working on?
S. Epatha Merskerson: Well, I did a play this year, or last year, last fall. I hadn’t been on stage in a while so that was a good thing for me to do and I’m heading off to Chicago to do work on Dick Wolf’s show Chicago Fire so I’m looking forward to that.
TradinaDeMary: And where can people go for more information about America’s Diabetes Challenge?
S. Epatha Merskerson: Please, they should access our website www.AmericasDiabetesChallenge.com.
TradinaDeMary: Ok, thanks a lot for your time.
S. Epatha Merskerson: Thank you Tradina.
TradinaDeMary: All right, have a good day.
S. Epatha Merskerson: You too.
Well, the interview went well. At a time when we pay tribute to influential African Americans and celebrate how many have overcome significant obstacles for Black History Month. Cheers to Actress S. Epatha Merkerson for encouraging African Americans with type 2 diabetes to better manage their blood sugar goals – a personal challenge she’s been struggling with for the last 12 years. Cheers to one strong lady, Actress S. Epatha Merkerson!
Did you know? I, Tradina can totally relate to the America’s Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals awareness campaign. My Dad was diagnosed with Diabetes in his thirties. So, I witnessed first hand insulin consumption and Diabetes survival skills. Thank goodness he is still around at 79 years old and still fighting the disease.
On the flip side, I was recently diagnosed as pre-Diabetic and too have learned to adjust to the challenges of the disease. So, I can totally relate to the important of Diabetes awareness.
When you know better you do better. Let’s do better American for all Americans living with Diabetes as S.Epatha mentioned in our interview, for more information about the America’s Diabetes Challenge, click here. Take the challenge, I know I am!