Wanda Durant is a mom of two successful sons: Anthony and Kevin (the latter just happens to be an NBA all-star), an entrepreneur and a philanthropist. She’s also a woman on a mission to educate people about Graves’ Disease, an immune system disorder that results in the production of excess thyroid hormones, and Thyroid Eye Disease, a separate condition that often goes undetected and untreated in people with Graves.’ Research has found that Graves’ Disease is more common among Black and AAPI women. So we spoke with Mama Durant about her story and why she wants other Black women to take control of their health.
Before she was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, Durant began experiencing rapid heart rate, weight loss, hair thinning and skin irritation. She made several trips to the doctor, only to come back with normal test results. But three years later, an incident with rapid heart rate that sent her to the hospital made Durant realize something was wrong. ”When I went to the emergency room, I had to have my heart stopped twice to get it back into rhythm,” she said. A doctor, who suspected she had overactive thyroid disease, referred her to an endocrinologist. “Once I went, I was diagnosed,” she said.
These days, Durant is managing her symptoms with daily medication for Graves’ Disease. But she says she was alarmed to learn that she was also dealing with Thyroid Eye Disease (TED), a separate disease with symptoms that may include dry eyes, watery eyes, red eyes, bulging eyes and other vision issues, without knowing. Although her primary care doctor and ophthalmologist diagnosed her with Graves’ Disease, neither suggested Durant be screened for TED. “I’ve dealt with this for 17 years, and I’m just hearing about this condition,” she said. “I could have been treated for this.”
Durant is meeting with a thyroid eye specialist to learn more about her condition and monitor her eye health. She’s also encouraging people to visit FOCUSonTED.com to learn more about the symptoms of TED and how it can affect them. “50 percent of Graves’ patients have TED,” she said. “And to think that they may not know is alarming.”
Durant advises Black women to pay attention to their health so they can get help right away when something is off. “Know your body. Know your healthy body,” she said. “Know how it reacts. And once those things change, be diligent about seeing your primary care physician.”
“I feel good because I have managed thyroid disease with the help of my endocrinologist for 17 plus years,” she said. “I’m vibrant and excited about life.”