"The past few years, I've been paying attention to my health," says singer Patti LaBelle. "I can live with this thing called diabetes. I sure can."
Patti wasn't always so sure of herself. Fifteen years ago, the rhythm-and-blues diva passed out on stage during a singing performance. That night, the doctor asked if she knew she had diabetes. "I didn't have a clue," Patti says. "I hadn't gone to the doctor because nothing was hurting me."
The diagnosis made her angry, even though she knew diabetes ran in her family. It had taken the lives of her aunt, her grandmother, and her mother, whose legs were amputated before she died in her mid-60s.
"I knew a lot of things and ways of eating would have to go," Patti says. Yet instead of taking charge of her disease, she spent the next four years ignoring it. "I'd make fried chicken for everybody, have a piece, and say it was OK."