Everyday Hero: Natalie Copeland

When doctors diagnosed Natalie Copeland, manager of Lexington Medical Center’s Cancer Registry, with type 2 diabetes, she quickly got to work learning how to best manage the disease.

“I attended the nutrition consultation and education program at LMC when I was first diagnosed, and I made great progress,” said Natalie.

Eventually, though, she forgot some of what she had learned and started “cheating” on her new lifestyle. Her struggle to get back on track led her to start D2 & Me, a free support and wellness group for people with type 2 diabetes.

Natalie Copeland

“I couldn’t find a support group in the area. So, when hospital dietitian Laura Stepp suggested that I consider starting a group, I decided to give it a go. LMC has been very supportive of my efforts. I could not do half of what I do without the help of the Marketing department, the certified diabetes educators at LMC and Lexington Endocrinology, and Laura.”

D2 & Me isn’t just for people with type 2 diabetes; it’s also for their caregivers. At each meeting, attendees learn ways to improve their quality of life with diabetes. Health care professionals including endocrinologists, diabetes educators and nurses cover a variety of topics, such as carbohydrate counting, diabetic complications, medications and interactions, and diabetic emergencies, as well as conduct grocery store tours. 

“My absolute favorite part of D2 & Me is knowing that I have helped someone. It brings me such joy to hear participants say that a meeting has been valuable to them or that they have made better life choices since they’ve started coming to D2 & Me meetings,” she said.

In addition to educating those with type 2 diabetes and their caregivers, members of D2 & Me encourage and uplift each other. They share in successes and failures.

“You can make a difference in someone’s life simply by taking some of the burden off his or her shoulders and sharing in his or her struggles. The older I get, the more important this work becomes to me. I want to make a difference; I want to hear ‘well done, good and faithful servant.’”  

And so, Natalie isn’t slowing down her efforts to help others. This month, the D2 & Me Diabetic Food Pantry, a collaborative program with Harvest Hope Food Bank and the American Diabetes Association’s Columbia chapter, opens. Natalie hopes to expand this program to all Harvest Hope Food Bank agencies in South Carolina. She also plans to bring D2 & Me meetings to Northeast Columbia and create a program to help diabetics afford costly medications.

“The experiences and knowledge I’ve gained since beginning D2 & Me has been unimaginable. I’m excited to see the growth of D2 & Me, and it feels so good to help others.”

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