When it comes to health and wellness, it takes individual strength and determination to make positive changes that impact a person’s overall well-being. However, the support of friends and family cannot be underestimated. And that certainly is the case for Raul and Sonia,* a married couple in their early 60s whose “in it together” attitude combined with the support of their oldest daughter has led to huge health gains.

The couple visits Mission of Mercy’s Maryvale clinic, where they were both diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and hypertension a few years ago. In addition, Raul also suffers from hyperlipidemia, which means he has elevated levels of lipids like fats, cholesterol, or triglycerides in his blood.

Both Raul and Sonia had initial A1c readings that were dangerously high at 11% and 10%, respectively. Both patients were immediately started on aggressive oral antidiabetic medications, which Mission of Mercy provides to patients at no charge thanks to generous support from donors. With the help of medication, the couple was able to bring their readings down to 8.8% and 8.3%, but they were not out of danger and needed to drop their A1c a few more points to reach the goal of less than 7.0% as recommended by the American Diabetes Association.

That’s when they decided to enroll in Mission of Mercy’s diabetes management program in early 2020. The couple started meeting with bilingual diabetes educator Cecilia Chapman, RDN, CDCES, and attended several educational sessions and received bags of fresh fruits and vegetables, including healthy recipes and diabetes education for continued learning at home.

Sonia made a point of posting the information and recipes on her refrigerator door to remember and encourage her family to make better food choices daily. When COVID-19 interrupted the regular clinic and education sessions for all patients in March 2020, Raul and Sonia transitioned to telehealth sessions to continue their quest for a healthier lifestyle.

Earlier this year, Raul and Sonia visited the Maryvale clinic for new A1c readings. Raul’s level was outstanding at 6.8% and Sonia’s was just a bit higher at 7.1%. In addition, Raul’s weight had dropped by 18 pounds, putting him in the healthy BMI range with well-controlled blood pressure and lipid levels. Sonia’s weight and blood pressure were also on the right track.

Thanks to funding support in 2021 from St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, The Board of Visitors, and the Ibis Foundation of Arizona, Mission of Mercy’s comprehensive diabetes management program offers help to individuals like Raul and Sonia by pairing medical treatment for diabetes alongside patient education and access to fresh produce as part of a holistic approach to treating patients with chronic conditions.

*Names and image have been changed to protect patient privacy.