March 31, 2022
WISEWOMAN program shares success story for local participant
MOBILE, Ala. — The WISEWOMAN (Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation) Program is an extension of the Alabama Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (ABCCEDP). The program focuses on identifying and reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors including high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, physical inactivity, and tobacco use.
Shakari Beechem, a Master Social Worker and Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker, coordinates the WISEWOMAN program at MCHD. It consists of more than 400 women who have the opportunity to obtain a free health screening, attend support meetings, lifestyle program, nutrition education, and produce gift certificates. Beechem schedules a fun, educational and interactive support meeting for the participants that includes topics such as cooking, exercising, and gardening.
One participant, Carolyn Hewitt, has made a major adjustment in her life thanks to the WISEWOMAN program. The following story was submitted by Ms. Beechem to share with the community:
I am so proud of our amazing WISEWOMAN participants during this past year. We’ve had women who continued to put in the work, despite the pandemic. However, there is one participant, Ms. Hewitt, who’s changed her lifestyle and the results are phenomenal.
Back in March 2021, Ms. Hewitt enrolled in the WISEWOMAN Program. She weighed 252 pounds, had a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 40, blood glucose of 290, and A1C at 8.8 percent. Our WISEWOMAN provider determined Ms. Hewitt was a first-time diabetic and had high cholesterol. The WISEWOMAN social worker assessed the patient and scheduled her an appointment with a primary provider and with our dietitian to help control her diabetes and weight.
Ms. Hewitt stated it was the thought of giving herself a shot each week that frightened her. On that day, she made up her mind she needed to make the necessary changes, fast.
“I was shocked but not angry,” Ms. Hewitt said. “Both sides of my family have diabetes, but felt like, not me, too. I left the doctor’s office and dumped everything in my refrigerator in the trash. I went to the grocery store and bought all new items.”
Ms. Hewitt started changing her diet, walking, and drinking more water. By July 2021, she returned to the clinic for her WISEWOMAN follow-up appointment, and we were amazed with the results. Ms. Hewitt weighed 216 pounds, had a BMI of 34, blood glucose of 82, and A1C of 5.4 percent. Her cholesterol and blood glucose numbers were better controlled, and she lost a total of 34 pounds within four months. We praised Ms. Hewitt on her progress and encouraged her to keep reaching her weight loss goal.
In January 2022, Ms. Hewitt returned to clinic to see her primary provider for a follow-up. Ms. Hewitt had lost an astounding 94 pounds total. However, her blood pressure was elevated, which was never an issue prior to this day. Our WISEWOMAN social worker gave Ms. Hewitt a blood pressure monitor. After further assessment we realized she was very anxious about her everyday schedule and health. Our social worker scheduled Ms. Hewitt for an appointment with our clinic behavioral counselor to help with this.
“I over-processed everything and was very rigid about things,” Ms. Hewitt said. “I form a list in my head each day and everything must be checked off. After speaking with the counselor, I learned breathing exercises when anxious and techniques/challenges to help me realize it’s not the end of the world if things don’t happen as I would like them.”
On March 19, Ms. Hewitt saw her primary provider and she has lost a total of 97 pounds since last year. Her weight is 154.6 pounds, her blood pressure dropped to 134/81 (20 points), her BMI is 25, blood glucose is 74 and A1C is 5 percent. She is currently off all medications, walking 40,000 steps a day, eating much healthier, journaling, and meal prepping.
“It was great to have support of the WISEWOMAN program and a dietician that was readily available to assist me via email and phone,” Ms. Hewitt said. “I had to remove things out of my life and start treating myself with care.”
Ms. Hewitt also mentioned she purchased a charm for her Pandora bracelet after every doctor visit to celebrate herself instead of using food for celebratory moments. She realized it all starts with a changed mind.
“My mind had to be aligned with my body,” Ms. Hewitt said. “I have a friend who got the gastric sleeve surgery a month before finding out about my health. Today, I’ve lost more weight than her due to changing my mindset. Another change was taking time out for myself each morning to journal, walk, and meal prep for the day. This all began after enrolling in the program and finding out about my health.”
Ms. Hewitt said she feels so much better and thanks WISEWOMAN for supporting her along the way.
“I can’t thank you all enough,” Ms. Hewitt said. “WISEWOMAN gave me access to a team of people and information I needed to succeed.”
Her diabetes and cholesterol are controlled, and she has lost 97 pounds. Her goal is to lose 3 more pounds.
“Without WISEWOMAN, I would be in the same position and in a negative space,” she said.
Ms. Hewitt is a prime example that not only does this program work and is saving lives, but if you put your mind to something you can achieve anything. We are so proud of Ms. Hewitt.
For more information about WISEWOMAN, please call Ms. Beechem at 251-690-8983.