Defeating the Dangers of Diabetes

Insulin saved Andy Mandell from becoming another statistic. Today, he makes it his mission to teach others about the dangers of diabetes.

Health Monitor Staff
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These days, you might run into Andy Mandell, Executive Director of the Defeat Diabetes Foundation (, lecturing at schools and community groups. You might even catch him talking about the disease on TV. That’s nothing short of a miracle when you consider how far he’s come. Back in 1998, he boarded a plane from Florida to his hometown of Boston. “Basically, I went home to die,” he says. At 53, he could no longer care for himself.

Just two years earlier, while training to do a run across the state of Florida to promote diabetes awareness, Andy woke up one day and couldn’t move. “I was frozen with pain,” says the former marathoner, who thought his own diabetes was under control with oral meds. Turned out, his A1C was a staggering 14.8, and he had developed such severe nerve damage that it was hard to wear clothing.

He worked hard to regain his health—taking his meds, monitoring his blood sugar as often as 12 times a day, eating carefully and exercising as much as he could. Still, things were dire. “Even sleep became impossible. Tossing and turning would wake me up.”

So when he finally went to live with his elderly parents in Boston, he says, “I figured I was going to become a statistic—one of the 200,000 diabetics who die every year.” Then he met with physicians who instantly recommended a treatment change. “It took insulin to stop the progression of my diabetes,” says Andy.

Today, he continues to caution Americans about the dangers of diabetes. His experiences, he believes, give him credibility among people who have the disease. And he lets everyone know that if he’s back on his feet, it’s thanks to insulin! 

April 2013