Inspiration to others in fight against diabetes

Mrs Smitha Venkatesh (left) and Mr Juhari Abdul Karim were held up by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong as having been positive influences on their families and community in their fight against diabetes.
Mrs Smitha Venkatesh (left) and Mr Juhari Abdul Karim were held up by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong as having been positive influences on their families and community in their fight against diabetes.ST PHOTOS: GAVIN FOO

Having lost two grandfathers and her father to diabetes-related complications, Mrs Smitha Venkatesh, 50, was worried that she, too, might get the disease.

Still, it was not until last year that she went for a pre-diabetes test, which she found out about from a diabetic patients support group her husband had introduced her to.

Pre-diabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.

"The war on diabetes really struck a chord with us," said Mrs Venkatesh, a consular staff member at the Australian Embassy. "I've seen how it happened with my dad. He was a very high-flying person, but diabetes struck and his whole lifestyle and everything just changed."

To her horror, the test results showed that she was almost pre-diabetic, which only reaffirmed her suspicions that her family had a strong genetic link to the disease.

She set her mind on preventing the disease by embarking on a more vigorous exercise routine and being mindful of what the family eats.

She now cooks all the meals for her husband and their daughter, who is in her 20s. This lets her monitor and control the fat and carbohydrate intake. The family also avoids refined sugars and processed foods.

 
 

Yesterday, Mrs Venkatesh was one of two individuals Health Minister Gan Kim Yong held up as having been positive influences on their families and community in their fight against the disease. He was speaking at an event organised by Diabetes Singapore to mark World Diabetes Day, at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The other person was Mr Juhari Abdul Karim, 42, a project superintendent who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes when he was 35.

The disease did not stop him from running marathons as he made proper preparations and planning before each one.

"What I want to do is motivate diabetic patients, and show them they can still live their lives," said Mr Juhari, who takes part in marathons to also raise funds for charity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2018, with the headline 'Inspiration to others in fight against diabetes'. Print Edition | Subscribe