I think many of us are feeling sad to hear of the death of type 1 celebrity advocate, Mary Tyler Moore(MTM). She was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of 33 and died on January 25 at the age of 80.
I remember reading about MTM having diabetes when I was a kid and there were articles written about her in Conquest (or whatever it might have been called then). She was slim and glam and despite being a tv celeb she always seemed more real to me than the other diabetics I read about in Conquest. These featured diabetics were invariably suffering fairly awful complications OR were male athletes. MTM as a smart savvy independent woman (who can tell where roles and reality merged or separated) was a perfect example of somebody just trying to get on with diabetes to me. I recall reading her say that having a condition that didn’t make her feel ill meant that for some time she ignored it and sat in her car eating donuts. It was the first time I’d seen something like that in the po faced articles that appeared (and still do as far as I know) in diabetes mags. Her honesty coupled with the hint of the mind games that are at the heart of diabetes was such a refreshing hit of reality, one I wouldn’t see again until the advent of the internet some 20 years later.
The type 1 community also owes MTM a debt of gratitude for her advocacy work over many, many years. It would have been easy for her, particularly when first diagnosed, to conceal her diabetes in fear that it would jeopardise being cast in future roles. Instead she chose to be open and honest-and perhaps that is an even greater thing than her work with JDRF.
My favourite recent quote from Mary is from an interview with People Magazine in 2009 and it is something that I wish all of us with type 1 can say:
“There have been challenges, but I’ve triumphed.”
Vale Mary Tyler Moore, may you rest in peace and rise in glory and may light perpetual shine upon you.