Bronx Woman talks about diabetes in film

Niurka Rodriguez, who is featured in a documentary on diabetes.
Photo Courtesy/ Merck/ Jazzmine Beaulieu

More than 30 million Americans have diabetes – that’s about 1 in 10 adults – and 90 to 95 percent of them have Type 2 diabetes.

This past Sunday, November 17, A&E debuted a film, ‘Touch of Sugar,’ about diabetes and one of the four people featured in it is a woman from Claremont.

The documentary dives into the diabetes healthcare epidemic that affects every community in the United States, told through the voices of people in their struggle with this chronic disease.

Interviews with patients and their loved ones, as well as doctors and advocates, explored diabetes and helped to reinforce Type 2 diabetes as an urgent public health issue that cannot be ignored, especially among underserved populations.

Niurka Rodriguez, 55, was diagnosed with pre-diabetes at age 29 while pregnant with her son Max. While her mother, Nidia Cuevas, 73, and a few aunts and uncles have diabetes; it has not been easy for her.

“It has changed my life because you cannot eat things that you like,” she said.

She explained in the Dominican culture, one eats a lot of rice and beans, but due to diabetes she has had to eat less of the ethnic staples.

Life as a diabetic is no cakewalk, she stressed. She has to carefully watch what she eats and the disease has caused her to have two operations on her right eye.

Today, she eats healthier, doesn’t eat after 8 p.m., never skips a meal, portions her food and eats lots of fruits and veggies. In fact, over the years, she has lost 30 or 40 pounds.

Furthermore, she learned how important it is to check labels on everything at the supermarket to make sure it is okay to eat.

Buying food in an impoverished community was a challenge at first, but now she knows where to get the right stuff. She noted healthy foods are quite expensive.

When she was first diagnosed she was scared, but today, she takes care of herself, and her children, Illys, 25, Max, 24 and Juliana, 17, support her. Illys is pre-diabetic.

She told the Bronx Times that sharing her story in the film meant a lot.

“I think that doing the documentary has been helping many people,” Rodriguez commented. “For the people that are diagnosed with diabetes, they have to take care of themselves. There is no cure, but you can live with it.”

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