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“Empowering Young Women”

“Embark on a journey through Erica Williams Mitchell's inspiring story of resilience and advocacy in the face of type 1 diabetes. Discover the challenges she overcame, the importance of accurate diagnoses, and the impact of medical disparities. ”

Ida HarrisContributor

Navigating Diabetes: Erica Williams Mitchell’s Journey, Medical Challenges, and Advocacy

In her preteen years, Erica Williams Mitchell faced a life-altering experience when she received an incorrect diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

Fast forward to college, standing at 88 pounds and 5-foot-9, Mitchell’s journey took an unexpected turn as medical professionals identified her actual condition as type 1 diabetes.

Despite grappling with this chronic health condition for over 35 years, Mitchell shares her story with candor, aiming to guide younger Black women and help them avoid the errors she encountered in her early experiences with the illness.


The Importance of an Accurate Diagnosis:

Mitchell emphasizes the critical importance of receiving an accurate diagnosis from the outset.

Having spent nine years treating the wrong type of diabetes, Mitchell’s correct diagnosis at age 19 revealed irreparable damage to her body.

She underwent numerous surgeries, including 25 on her right eye and 27 on her left eye, surgeries that might have been avoided with a timely and precise diagnosis.


Challenges in Diabetes Diagnosis:

Dr. Alexandria Atuahene, a North Carolina-based board-certified endocrinologist, sheds light on the common confusion surrounding diabetes diagnoses.

She notes that the distinction between type 1 and type 2 diabetes isn’t always clear-cut, contributing to the challenges individuals face when initially diagnosed.

Factors such as age and other considerations may lead to assumptions that hinder proper diagnosis and treatment.


Medical Racism and Limited Treatment Options:

Mitchell’s journey took a troubling turn as she encountered medical racism, limiting her access to comprehensive treatment options.

A change in insurance led her to a doctor of color who immediately questioned why she wasn’t on insulin pump therapy.

This revelation opened up new possibilities for Mitchell, who, prior to the switch, was taking seven shots per day.

Her experience fueled her advocacy efforts, leading her to write her graduate thesis on medical disparities, specifically focusing on insulin pump therapy.


Advocating for Informed Choices:

Mitchell’s story underscores the importance of providing individuals with comprehensive information about available treatments.

She stresses that everyone should be given the chance to make informed decisions about their health, regardless of their background or financial means.

Atuahene echoes this sentiment, emphasizing that diabetes is a chronic disease where proper medication and care are essential to delay complications.

Erica Williams Mitchell’s journey with diabetes serves as a powerful narrative of resilience, advocacy, and the importance of informed healthcare decisions.

Her experiences highlight the need for accurate diagnoses, the challenges in navigating diabetes, and the impact of medical disparities.

As Mitchell continues to share her story, she advocates for a healthcare system that prioritizes informed choices and equitable access to treatment options for all individuals living with diabetes.

Black Wall St. MediaContributor

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