Glenda Fields of Detroit was diagnosed with type two diabetes in 2005, but said her wake-up call came six years later after a frank discussion with her doctor.
"He said, 'Glenda, why are you trying to kill yourself?' I said, 'What do you mean kill myself?' He said, 'Well, you have diabetes, and you're not taking care of it,'" said Fields.
The mother of nine admits, she wasn't educated about the disease.
"I had no idea what this diabetes was doing to me," said Fields.
A new program being launched by the Southeast Michigan Beacon Community (SEMBC) called "Fighting D In The D" hopes to change that for patients like Fields.
The campaign involves txt4health, a text message program that connects with people using their cellphones. Participants can sign up for a free 14-week program of personalized text messages aimed at improving the health of people with diabetes or reducing the risk of developing the disease.
To enroll, individuals can text the word "HEALTH" to 300400 and answer a series of brief questions to assess their diabetes risk and help target the text messages.
U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin visited Detroit to help launch the program.
"We have to take public health to where people are, and one place people are is on their phones," said Benjamin. "Your personal smartphone is the ideal way to reach you."
Benjamin hopes the Detroit program will inspire other cities.
"Hopefully other communities can take a look at that as a model, as a way to say, 'Yes, we can fight diabetes. We can also fight obesity,'" said Benjamin.
Fields said the program is an excellent way to educate people about diabetes.
"Everybody has a cellphone. If it's a matter of going on your cell phone and getting information, that's a help," said Fields. "The more you know, the more power you have to control your life."
To learn more about the txt4health program, click here.