Currently on display in the hallway of the second floor of Banting House NHSC is our “Faces of Diabetes” exhibit which highlights inspirational individuals who have Type 1 diabetes. This includes Nichole Johnson, the winner of the Miss America pageant in 1999, Bob Clarke, a hockey player who played with the Philadelphia flyers for 15 seasons, Zippora Karz, a former ballerina with the New York Ballet, Victor Garber, an actor who was born in London, Ontario, and many more! This display was created by the students of the M.A. Public History program at Western University a few years ago. While on tour last week a guest was telling me of a bunch of other famous individuals who have Type 1 that could go on our wall. That conversation inspired me to write this blog post to update the display with a few new faces that you may recognize.
Nick Jonas was thirteen years old and on tour with his band the Jonas Brothers when he started to notice changes in his mood and body. He went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. He described the initial diagnosis as “terrifying” and he felt overwhelmed by the amount of information given to him. But Nick quickly learned how to manage his diabetes and began feeling much healthier. He carries his supplies with him in his backpack anywhere he goes and makes sure he always checks his blood sugar levels before he goes onstage to perform. He started a non-profit organization called Beyond Type 1 meant to raise awareness of the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and build a community for individuals who have Type 1. He has stated that the most positive thing about living with Type 1 is sharing his story and showing people who have been recently diagnosed “that it’s possible to do whatever you want to do with your life; to be free, while living with the disease.”
United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has been managing her Type 1 diabetes for over 55 years. At seven years old Sonia took charge of her own diabetes management by giving herself insulin injections. While very private about her diabetes early in life, Sonia learned that being open about it was much better for her and those around her. Now, each year when new law clerks are hired she explains to them what a “sugar low” is and how she treats it. Her advice for individuals newly diagnosed with Type 1 is “everything becomes second nature very quickly. It’s not so tough after a little while.” As for the parents of children with Type 1 she says, “Don’t stand in the way of their dreams, don’t stand in the way of their activities, don’t stand in the way of them taking control of their own lives. Teach them; don’t do it for them.”
Max Domi is a Canadian NHL professional hockey player with the Montreal Canadiens. When driving home to Toronto from a hockey tournament in Detroit when he was twelve years old Max and his mother noticed that he was extremely thirsty and had to use the bathroom a lot. His mother knew something was off and decided to take him to the doctor where he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. His first question after hearing his diagnosis was “Can I still play hockey?”. In 2018, Max regularly monitors and regulates his blood sugar using his pump. When playing one of his professional hockey games, he will check his blood sugar level about every fifteen minutes and make adjustments as needed. His message to young individuals with Type 1 is “Go out and pursue your goals. Achieve your dreams. Don’t let anything get in your way. Be remarkable.”
As many guests who visit Banting House NHSC are or know someone who has been recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes we often get questions about how it will impact their lives. The “Faces of Diabetes” display is meant to lend a comfort to those individuals and show that diabetes will not prevent you from following your dreams. What other individuals do you think belong in our “Faces of Diabetes” display?
This post was written by Rachel Delle Palme, Graduate Research Assistant at
Banting House NHSC. Rachel is currently completing her M.A. in Public History at