Making Lemonade

| Oct 23, 2007

I am a survivor and proud of it. Not only have I lived with diabetes for 52 years, since the age of five, but I am also a breast cancer survivor for over fifteen years.

Living with diabetes was not easy as a child in the mid-fifties. It was a real hassle having to test my urine, and no one ever told me to empty my bladder first or how to count carbs. Who knows how I survived this long? I really believe that walking to school each day benefited me.

Diabetes is definitely genetic in my family. Both my grandfathers had diabetes, as did my father and two of his siblings. A couple of years after I became diabetic, my sister also got it. One of my brothers got type 2 in his fifties. So far, only my mother and youngest brother do not have diabetes.

I was thrilled that neither of my two sons got diabetes, and then my younger son got diabetes just before his twenty-fifth birthday. My older son is still okay, but the worst day of my life was when his three-year-old daughter got diabetes. I knew it was not my fault, but I was just devastated to think that our darling granddaughter would have to take four shots a day. She is doing well and has no fear of needles. When I was a little girl, the shots hurt so much that to this day I am afraid of needles.

I am proud of the fact that I have coped with diabetes without any complications. I have worked hard at trying to maintain good blood sugars. Since beginning on the pump about fourteen years ago, I have maintained my A1c at around 6%. I do exercise every day, even when I don't want to. It certainly has helped me maintain good health. When you feel good, you look good, and when you look good, you feel even better.

I never kept my diabetes a secret, just in case I did get low blood sugar. I am prone to more lows than highs, even though I take a total of only about 15 units of Novolog a day.

I always believed that something good comes out of something bad. I thought for sure that my life was over when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 42 and had to undergo chemo and radiation. It was not a comfortable situation, but I am a survivor. I made lemonade out of lemons by not letting diabetes or cancer drag me down.

It was after going through all those chemo injections in addition to insulin shots that I went on the pump, and I've never regretted it. Taking one needle every three days to insert the pump is so much better than three or more shots a day. I just hate needles.

Before my sons moved out of the house, I was the only person with diabetes in the household. I had to learn to cook so that I could eat correctly, and they all were happy with what I made. I love to cook and bake, and my favorite food is cookies. I learned to prepare foods the healthy way, and I continue to prepare dessert almost every night.

My men, family, and friends were all satisfied with what I prepared, and they loved my cookies, cakes, pies, and other tasty desserts made without artificial sweeteners. People with diabetes can incorporate sugar into their meals but must watch the carbs. My Craving Chocolate Cheesecake is the ultimate dessert that I can eat and not have to worry about blood sugar swings.

At my oldest son's suggestion, I wrote my first cookbook. It sold very well, so I started teaching cooking classes and lecturing on healthy cooking. I never attended a culinary school nor went to college, but have done very well in helping others learn how to prepare foods the easy yet healthy way.

Even though my sons have their own families, I still cook and bake for my husband and guests and enjoy preparing foods that fit into my meal plan and satisfy everyone else. I have learned to prepare recipes using a minimum of fat, salt, and sugar while retaining flavor and texture. My latest cookbook contains over 300 recipes that even the novice cook can prepare. I am fortunate to have a very supporting husband who loves to taste-test whatever I make.

If I can survive diabetes for 52 years and breast cancer for over fifteen, so can you. A positive attitude is important since you never get a break from living with diabetes. It is your life, and if you want a satisfying life, you must work on it yourself.

Eating correctly and taking the correct medication are only part of good diabetes care. I believe that daily exercise is a major component to healthy living. I personally hate to exercise, but it is definitely worth the effort. My blood sugars are usually within the required range, and my weight is just fine. Exercise and drinking water throughout the day also help your skin.

Please join me in learning to accept life with diabetes and make the best of it. Turn those lemons in lemonade and enjoy life.

Kathy Kochan's website can be found at Her email address is

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Categories: A1c Test, Blood Sugar, Diabetes, Diabetes, Food, Insulin, Insulin Pumps, Personal Stories, Type 1 Issues, Type 2 Issues

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Oct 23, 2007

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