06/22/2001 AT 08:01 AM EDT
Dr. Quinn is turning specialist. Actress Jane Seymour, 50, kicked off a diabetes awareness campaign in New York on Thursday, PEOPLE reports. Called "Let's Face Diabetes," the former star of CBS's "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" is hoping to help diabetics come to terms with their illness (which affects the pancreas) and make others aware of the seriousness of the disease. "I think people need to be shocked into things," Seymour told PEOPLE. "Everywhere I go, I ask people if they have been tested (for diabetes). It is a silent killer." Although Seymour herself has tested negative for diabetes, she knows firsthand the effects of the disease. "I lost my grandmother to type-2 diabetes when I was a young girl. She had endless problems . . . she lost her eyesight, and she got gangrene in her leg, which eventually had to be amputated." Kidney failure is another malady that often strikes diabetes. Dr. Willa A. Hsueh, who accompanied Seymour to answer medical questions, struck an upbeat note when he said, "We are at a wonderful era where we can maximize our treatment for patients." Added Seymour: "I would like to see all doctors automatically run a diabetes test."