July 14, 2015

If you have diabetes, go to ‘Diabetes—What To Know’

Fred Bennett and his wife, Ansley Dalbo, have been working 
for the past two years to create a free website for type 2 diabetes patients.  
“Learning is the key to thriving with diabetes,” says Ansley.  
“The more you learn, the better you will do.  And our mission at 
What To Know is to provide patients and their 
loved ones with the tools to better understand what happened 
and what everyone can do to move forward.”
Minutes are hours long when you are sitting in a medical office awaiting test results.  Finally, the door opens, and the person in the white coat starts flipping pages on a clipboard.  The doctor says, “I have good news and bad news.  The bad news is you have type 2 diabetes.  The good news is this is something you can manage.”
Every 24 hours, 4,000 Americans hear that news.  The type 2 diabetes roster grows more than 1 million patients per year.  I don’t have diabetes, but one day I could.  It’s in my family’s history.  What about you?
That’s why I was glad to meet Harvard graduate Ansley Dalbo, who is a health-care consultant.  I’d like to introduce her to you.  What Ansley’s doing is going to make a huge difference in the quality of life of millions of type 2 diabetes patients.  But first, let me tell you how I got to know this petite and unselfish dynamo.
Perhaps you were in Jacksonville’s Gator Bowl on that 1980 November Saturday when Larry Munson begged—over the radio—“Run, Lindsay, run!”   Georgia Bulldog head coach Vince Dooley joked that he ran step for step with his star receiver as former Wayne County Yellow Jacket Lindsay Scott was making history with his 92-yard touchdown reception. As Lindsay sprinted, another Jesup native, Fred Bennett, was in the Florida Gators’ end zone, photographing every inch of the footrace.  (For 40 years, Coach Dooley has teased me: “You always work Jesup into your stories.”)
I was there, up in the nosebleed section, with a tiny transistor radio clamped to my ear.  And after the pandemonium, an exhausted Munson growled, “I gave up.  You did, too.”  Yes, I had given up.  But then Lindsay caught Buck Belue’s pass and outran the Orange and Blue.  Fred hustled back to Athens to develop the film and feed his images to the national wire services UPI and AP.  Sunday readers saw what Fred saw through his Nikon’s Nikkor telephoto lens. 
Last March, that’s what I was after—one of Fred’s famous photographs.  Loran Smith had   I reached out to Fred.  Not only did I get permission to use the prized picture, but I got to visit with Fred and meet his bride of eight years, Ansley. 
Fred and Ansley’s Decatur home is their nonstop 
think tank for their Diabetes—What to Know initiative. Ansley’s 
Buckhead office in Atlanta is also a production studio where Fred 
videos his wife’s educational information.  Ansley, a Harvard graduate 
and a health-care consultant, advises, “If you suspect you or 
someone you love may have diabetes, contact your doctor right away.  
The earlier you are diagnosed, the sooner the treatment can begin, and the 
healthier you will be.”  For more information, go to www.DiabetesWhatToKnow.com.
asked me to write a piece for his upcoming book on the late Voice of the Bulldogs, Larry Munson.
That’s when I learned Fred had left New York and eventually closed his photography studio to help his wife pursue her dream—to make a difference in the lives of people with type 2 diabetes.   Today, the lights in their Decatur home burn 18 hours a day—sometimes longer—as they brainstorm at their kitchen table on how to better develop their free website: Diabetes—What To Know (DWTK).
“Fred and I started creating this site in July 2013,” said Ansley.  “We have felt blessed and humbled to have such a worthy project that uses each of our individual talents.  I’ve created the program with diabetes health-care professionals, using all that we’ve learned about diabetes and patient behavior.  Fred has been able to utilize his incredible gifts behind the camera to create the educational videos and convey the stories of the amazing patients we have interviewed.”
It’s been fun to witness the back-and-forth passion and mutual admiration between Ansley and Fred over this altruistic endeavor.  Fred added, “Now that the site is created, we can turn our attention to building it out, adding many more patient stories, while including cooking videos, recipes, exercise tips and more.  And we can’t ever stray from our core mission of getting the message out that it’s possible to live a long, healthy life with diabetes.”

The other day, Fred and Ansley drove 240 miles to Jesup to interview a friend, Patti Bryant, who has been dealing with her type 2 diabetes for the past 18 months.  When I called my high school classmate, the grandmother said, “This just showed up when I was 65.” 
Chuckling, Patti confessed, “I am one of the electronically left-behinds, but Ansley gave me clear instructions on how to use the website.  I really am looking forward to using it.” 
            The education exchange was two-way.  While Fred filmed, Ansley gave Patti a list of helpful tips.  In return, Patti suggested ideas to Ansley that could help other type 2 patients. That’s the beauty of DWTK.  You don’t have to be alone or under-informed.
So, if you are sitting in a doctor’s office, listening to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, don’t let the minutes turn into hours before you visit www.DiabetesWhatToKnow.com.  Thanks to the unbridled energy of a husband-and-wife team, help and hope are just a click away.