In the realm of advocacy, Tiana Cooks stands as a formidable force, passionately championing causes that have touched her life in profound ways. While her advocacy journey may be a testament to her present commitment, it traces back to a pivotal moment in her teenage years when she advocated for her own health.
Diagnosis at 17
Cook’s journey with diabetes began during her senior year of high school when she began experiencing unexplained weight loss, fatigue, extreme thirst, and blurry vision. At the time, Cooks was committing to her goal of making her senior year her best year yet.
“I was able to join my school’s track team. I was on the student council and all of that great stuff and then I one day noticed that I was losing a lot of weight – I think I lost like 15 pounds in less than three weeks,” Cooks recalls. “I was really tired and extremely thirsty and fatigued all the time and I just remember telling myself something’s not right.”
Concerned, Cooks went to her mom who took her to the doctor to get checked out.
“I went to my mom and told her I’m not feeling well – something’s going wrong. I told her all my symptoms and she took me to the doctor and the doctor said I was fine. I talked to my school nurse and basically, every adult figure that I had in my life at the time – everybody kind of just dismissed it and said it’s probably because you’re running track or it’s probably just because you’re busy with all of the other activities that you’ve signed up for,” Cooks shares.
Despite initial dismissals from doctors and school officials, Cooks remained persistent, which ultimately led to a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. The news was overwhelming, however, with the support of her mother, Cooks shifted her perspective from fear to empowerment. This pivotal moment inspired her to use her diagnosis to make a positive impact on her community.
“It’s very important that we use our voices because if I didn’t use my voice, then there’s a chance that I wouldn’t be here today,” the Dexcom Warrior adds.
Advocacy for Diabetes Awareness
Today her advocacy work extends beyond her personal journey. She has actively addressed key issues in diabetes care, participating in discussions with politicians and speaking on panels.
Insulin pricing and access to healthcare are among the critical issues she has tackled. Notably, her efforts contributed to the implementation of an insulin cap in Colorado in 2019, marking a significant step towards better affordability and accessibility for those in need.