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The Phylicia Rashad Interview (Page 2 of 2)

An Interview with Phylicia Rashad

GB: Are there things that you and your loved one can do to help prevent PAD, like diet and exercise? Are there risk factors that you might want to tell people they need to think about?

PR:  Absolutely there are things to think about. Is there a family history? In my family, there is a medical history of diabetes on both parents’ sides. My mother’s father had diabetes. He died of a stroke. My father, his parents, and his siblings all had diabetes. If you know that is there, then you need to pay attention to the way you are living. You should pay attention to the way you are living anyway, but given that family medical history, you know there is stuff you need to do.

You need to exercise. You need to pay very close attention to your diet. I have to do that. It is not a problem for me because I enjoy healthy foods. But I take it even a step further. I have gone so far as to find out about food sensitivities, because all healthy foods do not go well with this body. I was not always aware of that, but I am aware of it now. I pay close attention to nutrition and things I do to supplement my nutrition.

GB:  As you travel the country, have you gotten a response from people living with PAD?

PR:  Within recent months, a friend of mine who smoked heavily for many years called me to say, and this was her exact wording, “Hey, I’m maxed out; they want to take my leg.” She had had a problem with her toe. She had injured it somehow and it wasn’t healing properly. We had been speaking on and off prior to this and it was not getting better. She said they tell me I have PAD and I have developed gangrene. Because of my work with the PAD Coalition, I was able to put her in contact with one of those chief physicians in the Coalition who directed her to a physician in her home town who was able to spare her leg. She lost some toes, but she was able to keep her leg. But you see, that is the thing; she never even put it together that her smoking was the root cause of her problem. It was not the injury that she sustained. It was the fact that she had been smoking for so long that it had affected her circulation. Then after all of this is said and done, she says, “Well yes, my leg did start feeling kind of cold; I would notice that my leg felt cold.” Well yes, it felt cold because there was no circulation there. People do not put these things together.

GB:  I think that story is an inspiration for others in her kind of situation. It is the sharing and the communicating that makes the difference and not being afraid of picking up the phone; and if you do not get the right support from your physician, move on.

If you only had one piece of advice for somebody about their own healthcare or about caring for their loved one, what would that advice be?

PR:  You must take care of yourself. It is an act of love. You should take care of yourself so that you are really nurturing yourself to have the best to give to others. From my own experience, it is important to take care of one’s own self. Not as self-defense, not as an act of revenge or rage, but because it is the right thing to do.

If there is no water in the well, you cannot share it with people. If there is no food in the refrigerator, you cannot feed people. If there is no energy in your body, if your mind is in a state of constant distraction or dismay, you cannot be of service to people. And you are not going to be the best company, either.


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