Miss Black U.S.A. 2007 And Diabetes Advocate Kalilah Allen-Harris

We were lucky enough to host a Miss Black U.S.A. function at Luigi’s Complex.

We have included excerpts from an interview with the winner Kalilah Allen-Harris on living with diabetes.

When were you first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?
I was diagnosed on February 10th, 1999. I was 14 years old. It was at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.

What symptoms did you exhibit?
There was increased thirst. I woke up at least six or seven times a night to urinate. I lost close to 20 pounds in about a week. It seemed like the more I ate, the hungrier I got and the more I drank the thirstier I got. I also experienced extreme fatigue. The day I finally did go to see a physician, I could not physically get out of bed. I had to have help from my mom.

Did the diagnosis affect, either positively or negatively, relationships with friends and family?
At first, it was a negative impact because I didn’t want to be viewed as different or as a person with a disability. So I decided to hide it from my friends. But once I accepted it because it was’nt going away, then it became a positive thing. I got to teach my friends.

We bonded over it. They saw a vulnerable side of me. They got to help remind me monitor, estimating the carbohydrates. And they were excited to be a part of that. When I was excited because a new pump was coming out or a new technological advance, they got excited with me.

It definitely changed my lifestyle for the better. We had to make sure all the meals were compatible with the diet. I had to change not just what I eat but the way I think about eating so it was a process for all of us.

What advice can you share with those who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?
Be open about the disease. Learn as much as you can. Do as much as you can with your team of health care professionals as soon as possible and keep it that way to prevent the complications that can be associated with diabetes.

Be open minded. Don’t try to fight it. Accept it. Move forward. Do what you have to do to make sure that it doesn’t cut your life short. Complications arise that are not necessarily preventable but as much as we can do by keeping good glycemic control, those measures should be taken.

Did you want to be Miss Black USA before your diagnosis?
The Miss Black USA organization is 21 years in existence now. They were in existence when I was a little girl but I didn’t know about them. When I was young, I used to watch pageants and thought I wanted to do that. I didn’t plan to compete in the pageant.

I heard about it on the radio very randomly after having finished an introductory program that medical students take. They said they were offering scholarship money. And so I went for it. I always wanted to be in a pageant but I didn’t go out to say these are the steps I’m going to take to be Miss Black USA.

I’m so grateful to be in the right place in the right time. I would do it all over again for the next six years if I could.

Contact details and Reservations:

Luigis Complex for the best Gambian self-catering apartments, serviced flats, beachside accommodation, bed and breakfast, restaurant and eco-tourism excursions.
Relax and enjoy your Gambia Holidays with us!

Tel +220 4460280

  1. Kaliba
    June 8, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Waw I think this is the right step in the right direction.Congratulations for a job well done

  2. Gambia Tourism
    September 8, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    We try and support worthy causes thanks for your support

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