Fear to Hope: Diabetes Program Empowers Patients to Improve their Health

Cheryl Goode was no stranger to diabetes when she was diagnosed at age 40. Her mother, aunt and grandfather were all affected by diabetes and its complications. To help ease her concerns about the diagnosis, a physician signed her up to attend a diabetes self-management program (DSMP) workshop. Participating in the class made the diagnosis less scary and empowered her to take steps to improve her health.

Cheryl Goode

Cheryl Goode

Since 2011, Goode has been passing on her knowledge and supporting others affected by diabetes. While working in the Meals and Wellness department of Senior Connections, the Capital Area Agency on Aging, her supervisor recommended her for training as a chronic disease self-management program (CDSMP) leader.

She recently shared her experience at the Virginia Care Transitions Forum, hosted by the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, Health Quality Innovators (HQI) and the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.

“We have the wonderful opportunity of teaching new techniques and giving hope to many groups of diabetics each year. They come to us with many of the same fears and concerns so we start our first session by acknowledging and naming those fears and concerns,” Goode said.

Throughout the six-week workshop, participants learn about a wide range of topics including nutrition, exercise, maintaining a healthy blood sugar, stress management and communicating with health care providers. Goode’s favorite topic, action planning, helps people break down complex problems into small action steps.

“Participants are introduced to action plans during our first lesson and create a new one each week of our workshop. They are both fun and empowering,” she said.

As a workshop leader, Goode is not only improving health in the Richmond community, she is helping her own family. Recently, her mother agreed to participate in a DSMP workshop. Although she had been living with diabetes for many years, her mother learned that some of her favorite foods were not as healthy as she believed. Now, she knows how to interpret food labels and refers to her copy of Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions, a book that is offered to all participants at no charge.

Goode encourages anyone with diabetes or pre-diabetes to sign up for a workshop. “While there is no cure for diabetes, there are ways to prevent or delay serious complications. Even if complications have started, they can often be managed. Each of us must decide to make changes to improve health and make good choices,” she said.

Learn more about Senior Connections at HQI partners with community organizations in Maryland and Virginia to support DSMP. Learn more at

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