Celebrities that are Helping to Change the Perception of Diabetes

Blog post   •   Jun 20, 2013 13:08 BST

6 Celebrity Role Models that have Type 1 Diabetes

Despite diabetes being one of, if not the, most common chronic disease in the world, there are very few celebrities who come out publicly as suffering from the condition. Largely, this stems from the negative stereotypes and misconceptions that the public has about diabetes, and the difference between Type 1 and Type 2. For instance, despite a large push in recent years by diabetes organizations, many people still think that all diabetes is caused by being out of shape and over-indulging in sweets and carbohydrates.

Still, more and more celebrities are coming out as having Type 1 diabetes, and raising awareness about the condition. Their message is often simple: diabetes is manageable, and you can keep living a full, happy, productive life with it. They’re also pushing to raise awareness about the types of diabetes and the causes, effects, and treatments available for each.

So without further ado, here’s our list of the top six celebrities with diabetes who are helping to change the perception of this disease.

1. Halle Berry – At the age of 22, actress Halle Berry slipped into a diabetes induced coma for a week. When she awoke, doctors diagnosed her with Type 1 diabetes. Hower, this celebrity story takes a twist and shows just how dangerous assumptions can be: in 2007, Berry claimed that she had weaned herself off of insulin, something that is completely impossible for those with Type 1 diabetes since their pancreas is completely incapable of creating insulin on its own.

Doctors have since diagnosed her with Type 2 diabetes, making her recovery plausible and possible. One possible reason for her misdiagnosis may have been that Berry has always been in great shape and showed none of the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. Something similar occurred to former tennis star Billie Jean King, and TV personality Larry King, showing that diabetes isn’t something only the out of shape have to worry about.

2. Gary Hall, Jr. – In 1999, doctors diagnosed Olympic swimmer Gary Hall, Jr. with Type 1 diabetes and told him he would never swim competitively again. In 2000, Hall proved doctors and detractors wrong by winning his first Olympic gold in the 50 meter freestyle. He went on to do the same in 2004. Hall is living proof that life doesn’t end after a diabetes diagnosis. In fact, it can be just the beginning!

3. Brett Michaels – Hard rocking and harder partying frontman for Poison, Brett Michaels, has been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes from the age of 6. Nevertheless, he never let his condition stop him, and has risen to be an iconic superstar. When asked about living with his condition, Brett told USA Today “Accept that you have the disease. Keep taking your insulin. Keep it under control. Also, enjoy your life. I have stayed in good physical shape by having mind, matter, and music over the disease.” Some of the best advice we’ve ever heard.

4. Jay Cutler – In 2008, the starting quarterback for the NFL’s Chicago Bears lost 35 lbs. and reported being chrinically fatigued. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, the star athlete didn’t let that stop him. With positivity, a good outlook, and good blood sugar control (including wearing an insulin pump and checking his blood sugar regularly), Cutler continues to play American football at a professional level.

5. Sonia Sotomayor – In May of 2009, Sonia Sotomayor was appointed to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. 47 years earlier, at the age of 8, Judge Sotomayor was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Despite the hardships of diabetes and growing up poor in New York City, Sotomayor went on to graduate from both Princeton and Yale, and rose through the judicial ranks quickly before her appointment to the highest court in the US.

6. Nick Boynton – Former professional hockey player Nick Boynton actually credits his Type 1 diabetes with making him a better player. The focus on exercise, diet, and being aware of his body and its needs made him work harder and smarter, and eventually led to a Stanley Cup win with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010. Diagnosed with Type 1 right before his start at the NHL training camp, Boynton still went on to have a successful 12 year career playing hockey professionally.

Of course, this is just a small subset of the many celebrities that have type 1 diabetes. From the co-founder of Roc-a-fella records to Olympic skiers to marathon runners to actors and actresses, more and more people are coming out to demonstrate that type 1 diabetes isn’t any more of an obstacle to making the most of your life than any other temporary road bump. And they all have the same advice: maintain control of your blood sugar, eat healthy, exercise, and don’t let anything get in the way of chasing your dreams!