10 Celebrities Who Live with Diabetesby David Mendosa Patient Advocate
Some celebrities are movie stars. But not all, because people who are in the news are by definition celebrities. Many of them live with diabetes, acknowledge it, and have fabulously successful careers. Here are 10 of them.
Soon after Halle Berry arrived in Hollywood in 1989, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and became a volunteer for the JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), which funds Type 1 research. In 2007, Ms. Berry said that she had weaned herself off insulin and has Type 2. She likely was initially misdiagnosed.
In October 2013, Tom Hanks revealed that he has Type 2 diabetes. As of 2016, the films in which Hanks has starred have grossed more than $8.5 billion, making him, by some estimates, the fourth highest-grossing actor of all-time.
Singer, songwriter, and actor Nick Jonas is best known as one of the Jonas Brothers. In 2007, when he was 14, he went public with his Type 1 diabetes, announcing that he uses an insulin pump. The Jonas brothers developed the Change for the Children Foundation to raise money and awareness for diabetes and other childhood diseases.
Bret Michaels is best known as the lead vocalist of the glam-metal band Poison. A man of many talents, this singer-songwriter, actor, director, producer, and reality television star is now focused on his solo career. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 6, Michaels collapsed onstage in 1987 after injecting insulin but forgetting to eat. He went public with his diabetes shortly afterward.
I don’t know of any celebrity who has worked harder and longer to advocate for people with diabetes than Nicole Johnson, who became the first Miss America with diabetes in 1999. She went on to earn a doctorate in Public Health, becoming the spokesperson for the JDRF and an award-winning television journalist who has written seven books.
Paula Deen is a sometimes-controversial celebrity chef and television cooking show host famous for Southern comfort food. When she announced in 2012 that she has Type 2 diabetes, she said that “it won't stop me from eating the way I want.” At that time, I defended her from her critics as I remain concerned about her message.
Andre Brown, better known as Doctor Dré (not to be confused with gangsta rapper Dr. Dre), is a radio personality and former co-host of Yo! MTV Raps. Doctor Dré also starred in the film Who's the Man?. He developed Type 2 diabetes in 2006 and in 2013 lost his eyesight. In June 2016, Doctor Dré announced that he intends to have bariatric surgery and follow up with a TV show to chronicle his recovery.
Jay Cutler is an NFL quarterback who holds most of the Chicago Bears' franchise passing records. When he was playing for the Denver Broncos in 2008, he announced that he has Type 1 diabetes. In 2009, he started the Jay Cutler Foundation to “inspire kids with the message that diabetes doesn’t have to stand in the way of achieving their own goals.”
Sonia Maria Sotomayor
Sonia Sotomayor is both the first Hispanic justice of the Supreme Court and the first justice with Type 1 diabetes. Diabetes taught her discipline, she says and gave her “the gift of understanding how precious life is.” Diabetes also led her, indirectly, to the Supreme Court. As a little girl she had wanted to become “the Puerto Rican Nancy Drew, girl detective,” but doctors suggested she pick a more sedate career.
The Right Honourable Theresa May is both the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the leader of that country’s Conservative Party. In 1997, she became a Member of Parliament. In 2014, at age 57, she learned that she has Type 1 diabetes, originally misdiagnosed as Type 2.
The gift to people with diabetes
Each of these celebrities with diabetes is doing his or her best to manage their condition, along with the many demands of their work. And just by acknowledging that they have the disease, they help to counteract the stigma of diabetes.