While she’s still spinning music, DJ Spinderella (aka Deidra Roper) is no longer spinning her wheels when it comes to getting the right information to help her family members who have diabetes.

There was a time when she felt lost and confused about how best to help those around her. Since becoming actively involved with the American Diabetes Association (ADA), first as a Dallas-based spokesperson for Step Out®: Walk to Stop Diabetes® and now as a newly minted member of the American Diabetes Association Celebrity Cabinet, those days of feeling lost and alone are long gone. I had the pleasure of sitting down to talk to this remarkable, spirited woman. Her infectious determination and courage in the face of the challenges her family has endured were inspiring. Though she’s received many professional accolades throughout her illustrious career, starting back in the mid-1980s as one third of the iconic hip-hop music group Salt-n-Pepa, she says helping people with diabetes work through their difficulties means just as much to her, if not more.

Your family has been affected by diabetes,which many people can relate to. Would you share some of that history?

Diabetes wasn’t something I was really aware of until my mother had it. I do remember, though, that both grandmothers had diabetes, and I remember them taking their insulin. My brother has had diabetes for 20 years now, and my nephew, his 15-year-old son, also has diabetes.
When my mother was trying to manage her diabetes, I didn’t know where to turn. I felt helpless in assisting her. In essence, I was really lost.

When your family members were diagnosed, what were some of your first concerns in terms of helping them?

After my mother passed away from complications of diabetes, I undertook a lot of research to make sure I could share the right information with my brother and nephew. What I realized was that even if you have diabetes, you can have a healthy lifestyle, and the quality of your life can be improved.

I had to look at myself as well. I began gathering cookbooks and other resources so we could change things up. Being proactive made the difference. I’m still in the learning process. I also learned that it is important not to be quiet about your diabetes—whenever you can share about it, it can make a difference.

My nephew is 15, and being a person with diabetes has been hard for him, and he doesn’t always want to share. My brother is more open about it. But stress plays a major part in my brother’s life. Every time I come across really useful information on the American Diabetes Association website, I’m right there sharing it with both of them. I think constantly sharing with both of them really helps.

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