Mary Tyler Moore: Living with Diabetes
She's not the only public person to have diabetes. Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, and Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court all have the disease, Mary Tyler Moore, however, not only has Type 1 diabetes, she has written a book about her own experiences, Growing Up Again: Life, Loves And Oh Yeah, Diabetes, and she has campaigned tirelessly for more research to find a cure.
Most Americans became aware of the seven-time Emmy award-winning actress through "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", when she played Mary Richards. Back in 1970, it was groundbreaking to be a single, 30-something career woman who had a fabulous job as a news producer, her own independence, and her own apartment. Before her eponymous show, Moore played the smart and hip housewife on "The Dick Van Dyke Show", for which she won an Emmy, and she went on to star in movies like "Ordinary People and "Flirting with Disaster," in which she played Ben Stiller's adoptive mother.
Besides being a television icon and movie star, Moore has been in the public eye due to her diabetes. She's lived with the disease for more than 40 years, and as with most people, didn't take the news of her diagnosis well.
"You get the diagnosis and your first reaction is kind of denial," she said in an interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer. "Well, after having cleaned the house of anything that was strong in carbohydrates, sugar especially, I then, in an act of absolute defiance got in the car, drove to the market, grabbed a box of a dozen doughnuts and put them on the seat next to me and drove around Beverly Hills eating one doughnut after another."
But Moore learned how to cope with diabetes and with many other curveballs thrown at her. She survived divorce and the death of her son, she beat a drinking problem, and she's suffered a life-changing diabetes-related complication--vision impairment.
In her book, Moore discusses her worsening eyesight. She calls it "tunnel vision, which makes the world look like a perpetual journey by car through the Swiss Alps."
Sadly, Moore's vision was bad enough that her driver's license was taken away. And she's admitted that when it's dark in the room, it's hard for her to recognize people. At a party where it was dark, she said in her Diane Sawyer interview, someone came over and she spoke to him. "Then I went back to where I thought Robert (her husband) was, but he had moved over here and I was saying, so sweetie, when we get home, and I was just talking to a post."
When she was asked by Diane Sawyer what it was that finally enabled her to say she's grown up, Moore answered that marrying someone 18 years younger (her husband, Robert Levine) helped. But, she added, "I think just being in my own light, being able to make my own decisions without having a great monster presence in back of me saying this is what's good for you and this is what's best for this situation and that's a good, comfortable way to lead your life but it doesn't really give you the full enjoyment of life."
These days, Moore is highly visible as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's International Chairman. Everyone with Type 1 diabetes stands to benefit from her energy and commitment, since she's raised millions for diabetes research. She's also a role model and an inspiration to young women everywhere.
ABC News Transcript, 30 Mar 2009. Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer. "Growing up Again; Mary Tyler Moore."
ABC News Transcript, March 31, 2009: Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer "Growing up Again; Mary Tyler Moore."
"NAB Honors Seven-Time Emmy Winner Mary Tyler Moore with Distinguished Service Award." States News Service. 16 Mar. 2009
Neville, Anne. "A friend for diabetics, with some spice added." Buffalo News. 1 April 2009.
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