HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - October is a month designated to promote awareness about several diseases and causes, including diabetes.
"It becomes a way of life," Hattiesburg resident Mike Pruitt said. "It's like waking up in the morning and brushing your teeth, tying your shoes; it's part of what we deal with."
Pruitt is one of the fortunate ones who learned early on.
"I have been an insulin diabetic since I was 10. I am now 51, 41 years of living a healthy life even with diabetes."
Pruitt said he learned how to cope and manage it by educating himself on the symptoms and effects.
His daughter Lucy is now following in his footsteps as they are both part of this year's walk for diabetes.
"My daughter was diagnosed a number of years ago. We thought as a family we knew a lot about diabetes, and I guess we did, but we didn't know so much about what it was like to have a 5-year-old in the household who was also insulin dependent."
Lucy, now 12-years-old has made keeping track of her disease part of her everyday routine.
"Living with diabetes is now easy because I have done it since I was little."
"For those who go too long undetected, it's not so easy," said Hattiesburg Clinic Optometrist Scott Paladichuk who specializes in patients with diabetic retinopathy. "Although, it is not curable it can cause major damage to your vision if not treated."
"Over 350,000 Mississippians have diabetes, and approximately one third are undiagnosed," he said.
Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi Regional Coordinator Lori Corder said, "It's the mission of DFM to teach people of all ages about this treatable disease, one step at a time, before it takes over."
"A lot of organizations that are supported around here the money raised goes to research which is very important but it goes out of state," she said. "Our research is done here in the state, and we raise the money for our programs to help the youngest of young to our seniors. So, we are excited about that and want to continue to support that."
Seventh grader Lucy Pruitt is stepping into the role of advocate, bonding with those who are also in her shoes.
"More people have diabetes than you may think, and being around someone with it is a really good experience for people because they get to know more about what's going on."
The Pruitt family hopes sharing their way of life at the diabetes walk on October 17th becomes more than just one family's story but rather an inspiration.