A short time after I was diagnosed with diabetes and still feeling rather “bummed” about the whole thing, my parents got on the computer (which is always risky) and did a search on “famous people with type 1 diabetes.” They found the names of several actors, musicians, sports and political figures.
The one that struck me, however, was a teenage boy who was a member of a popular rock band. At that time I had become a big fan of the group and had read on my own that he had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a young teenager. It may have put him in the hospital for a short time, but it didn’t stop him from pursuing his dream as a performer and traveling the world with his brothers.
He was close to my age, a really cute guy and a great singer. He came off as being really “down-to-earth” during his television interviews. What really impressed me was that he was willing to talk publicly about his diabetes, share his personal ups and downs, and give his time to fund-raising for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
He even wrote a song about dealing with type 1 diabetes and performed it during many of his concerts, including one that I had attended a few years ago. One of the lyrics in the song referred to having low blood sugar, and as I looked around at all the other screaming teenage girls in the audience, I wondered if any of them could relate to what he was saying.
I knew that I could.
So I basically thought about it this way. This teenage rock star was “really cool” and he had type 1 diabetes. That meant that any teenager with diabetes, including myself, could still be “really cool.”
Since my entire family took on this mission, we ended up finding a lot of famous people with type 1 diabetes. My parents have talked about the one of the United States Supreme Court Justices (okay mom, but I still want to be a model). They also mentioned a famous television sitcom star during the 1960s and 1970s, and recalled watching her television series when they were growing up.
My two older brothers were big sports fans, so they listed off a few well-known sports figures, including a basketball player who played in the NBA. And there are many others, including former American Idol contestants and a woman crowned Miss America.
(Hey, you can even find a few well-known people on this very blog).
This may not be the case for everyone, but for me, it helped to learn about famous people who did not let their diabetes slow them down or get in the ways of their dreams. It’s difficult because so few teenagers in my town have diabetes. It’s not like there are enough other girls to form a “Diabetic Divas” group or anything like that. Learning about famous people with the same condition made me feel less isolated.
Besides, having something in common with a teenage rock star is a pretty good thing in my book.