Green Bay’s Shermain Williams has come a long way in her journey with diabetes.

“Then my A1C went from 8.6 to 6.6, so they were really happy about that,” Williams shared. “So, I’m doing pretty good now.”

But she says that doesn’t mean living with diabetes is easy.

“What I’d like to tell people is that this is a serious, deadly disease,” Williams said.

In fact, when she first heard her diagnosis, it took a while to register.

“They said, ‘You know what? You’re a diabetic.,’ I said, ‘What is that?”

Stephanie Banaszynski, a nurse practitioner with Aurora BayCare, says Williams is not alone.

“I would say most people are asymptomatic with diabetes,” Banaszynsi said.  “Most people that come in do not know they have it.”

Often called “the silent killer,” diabetes can be present for years without patient even realizing anything’s wrong… until suddenly, it becomes deadly.

“It’s just because diabetes is very silent,” Banaszynski explained. “You usually don’t show any symptoms unless your blood sugar levels are really, really elevated.”

Williams did have some classic symptoms of type two diabetes, when the body loses its ability to process blood sugar effectively…

“I had dry mouth, extra thirsty, running to the bathroom a lot,” she explained.

…and she had one risk factor for diabetes that has nothing to do with diet and exercise

“In the U.S., African Americans adults have double the risk of diabetes than white Americans,” Banaszynski said. “It’s actually been shown to be five times higher in African American youth than white American youth.”

Williams has gotten her diabetes under control through a combination of lifestyle changes and medications.

Her blood sugar reading when the Local 5 crew was with her was 118.  She says anything under 130 is considered good.

“She’s been doing great,” said Banaszynski. “She’s on a regimen that been doing really good for her, has no side effects and she was effectively able to lose 15 – 20 pounds as well.”

Williams says she plans to continue on her positive path, sharing an important message…

“Stay away from the sweets, eat your vegetables, eat right,” she advised.

…especially for her 24 grandchildren!

“I try to tell my grandkids stop eating all that candy,” Williams said.

Williams and Banaszyski both say keeping up with your yearly physicals, where your blood sugar is measured, is one of the best ways to reduce your diabetes risk.

“Go get checked,” Williams advised. “Go get checked,”

If you’d like to find out your risk for diabetes got to to take a quick online quiz.