Seventeen years ago, Georgia Medwedrich went to see her doctor for her annual medical exam. The doctor ordered a routine blood test. The diagnose from the blood test shocked her.
Medwedrich was told she had Type 2 diabetes. “I didn’t feel anything wrong with me. I was feeling fine,” she said.
Today, Medwedrich checks her blood sugar levels several times a day, and is on medication to treat the disease.
Medwedrich is among 11 million Canadians who have diabetes, and its one of the reasons the Sooke Harbourside Lions Club is bringing the disease to the forefront with its first-ever Diabetes Tag Day this Saturday (Nov. 12).
In Canada, the disease has reached epidemic proportions. Health officials predict 13.6 million Canadians will have diabetes or prediabetes by 2025.
Diabetes increases a person’s risk for many serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure leading to dialysis, and blindness.
And while the Harbourside Lions are hoping to raise money during tag day, more important is creating awareness about the disease, said Jeanette Umbach, the club’s diabetes chair.
Along with asking for donations, Lions club members will be handing out materials from the Canadian Diabetes Association. They will also spread the word about the importance of prevention, awareness and early diagnosis and urging residents to take an online test that will determine if they are at risk for Type 2 diabetes or prediabetic. The test can be found at diabetes.ca/about-diabetes/take-the-test.
“Awareness is so important. There are so many people walking around that aren’t even aware that they’re prediabetic,” said Medwedrich, who is the district diabetes chair for Lions clubs in B.C.
The Sooke Harbourside Lions Club has fundraised and brought awareness about diabetes for several years. It began with Barb White, also known as the Penny Lady, who distributed coin boxes throughout the Sooke region.
Over the years, fewer stores have accepted – or wanted – the coin boxes, and as more people move to make their business transactions with either credit or debit cards, funds dried up.
“We thought its was time to try something different,” Umbach said.
Diabetes Tag Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at Village Foods, Western Foods, Shoppers Drug Mart, Peoples Drug Mart and Sooke Home Hardware.
Proceeds from the event will raise funds to send Sooke children with diabetes to Camp Kakhamela on the Sunshine Coast.