Legendary Della Reese-Lett, 76, star of stage, screen, records and an ordained minister, was a keynote speaker at the recent Eighth Annual KJLH Women’s Health Forum at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Looking fit and healthy, Reese-Lett, founder of Understanding Principles for Better Living Church, revealed to the audience that she experienced a health crisis when she was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes several years ago.
“I am at war with diabetes,” declared Reese-Lett, addressing an auditorium of nearly 500 women. “It is so important to take care of our health.”
Reese-Lett said she never thought that she would be saddled with diabetes.
Growing up in Detroit, Reese-Lett said that her mother was an excellent cook who whipped up tantalizing meals. “I came from a mother who could cook paper and make it taste good,” Reese-Lett recalled. “She taught me how to cook rich food.”
Constantly traveling on the road and not eating properly contributed to Reese-Lett’s health problems as an adult. “I started singing with Mahalia Jackson when I was 13,” Reese-Lett recalled. “I wanted to make enough money to lay back, eat Butter Pecan ice cream and be happy.”
But Reese-Lett said that for years, her hectic schedule left little time for preparing proper meals. “I had been eating at night,” Reese-Lett confessed. “A break for me was at 3 a.m. in the morning and it began to affect my metabolism.”
Reese-Lett said that it was while she was a regular on the television series “Touched by An Angel” that she experienced the first symptoms of diabetes. “I was conducting a choir for (country singer) Wynona Judd. I was standing on a box so that the choir director could see me in the back of the choir. All I remember was the director saying ‘action’ and then ‘cut’. All of a sudden, it seemed as if the box had grown taller,” said Reese-Lett, who said she recalls feeling dizzy and that her body became drenched in sweat.
“I was rushed to Cedars Sinai Hospital. The doctors checked me out and told me that I had diabetes. My blood sugar level was close to 500.”
Reese-Lett said that the diagnosis spurred her into action. “I started reading everything I could about Type II diabetes,” she said.
Reese-Lett also realized that she had to increase her level of exercise. “I had to get myself up and start walking. I also do exercises seated in a chair–I call it the chair dance,” said Reese-Lett.
Reese-Lett said that she has rid herself of her early morning bad eating habits and drastically changed her diet. “Now I eat five small meals a day,” she said.
“If you are at war with Type II diabetes, you are going to have to change your mind and change your life,” Reese-Lett advised.
Indications of diabetes include feeling tired, experiencing dry, itchy skin, increased urination, blurred vision, increased hunger or thirst, and a tingling or loss of feeling in hands or feet.
Reese-Lett said that a spiritual connection with a higher power has greatly helped her keep her diabetes under control. “I go to that secret place where I meditate with the Father,” she reflected. “I speak to my Master in the middle of the day.”
Reese-Lett said that meditation with God has helped her tremendously. “He helped me bring my diabetes down from 500 to 89.”