Life On The Big Screen With Type 1 Diabetes
Education and Advocacy Victor Garber talks diabetes management and how a diagnosis can be an opportunity for growth.
anadian actor Victor Garber was just 12 years old when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. “I was sort of intrigued by the whole idea of giving myself shots,” Garber remembers. “I wasn’t so much frightened by it as curious as to how that was going to work.”
Dependent on regular blood tests and injections to deliver the insulin his body could no longer produce, Garber describes how the diagnosis of a life-long condition affected not only his life but those around him. “I think it was almost harder for my mother than me,” he recalls. But Garber learned how to manage the disease, showing his parents — and himself — there was life beyond the diagnosis. “Type 1 diabetes is not who I am — it’s something that I’m living with.”
Managing Type 1 with long, irregular days on set
Garber’s accomplishments are notable: three Emmy Award nominations for his role in the ABC action series Alias, prominent roles in films like Titanic and Argo, and a successful stage career that has earned him four Tony Award nominations. Garber is currently starring as Dr. Martin Stein in the DC Comics series Legends of Tomorrow, where long and unpredictable days on set would challenge any diabetes management routine. “My hours are completely irregular because I work in television at the moment,” Garber explains. But with the help of a continuous glucose monitor and a continuous insulin delivery system, he keeps his blood sugar levels stable and can concentrate on demanding scenes.
Garber is honest about how his diabetes management sometimes involves the help of those around him — especially when he’s experiencing low blood sugar, remedied with a fast-acting source of carbohydrates like juice or candy. “When I was doing Alias, Jennifer Garner would know immediately,” Garber explains. “She would say ‘Get him some orange juice now.’” He encourages those with Type 1 diabetes to talk about their condition with friends, family, and coworkers so they recognize the symptoms of unstable blood sugar and can help give reminders to test blood sugar levels. “Be open about it so that it’s not so mysterious and you’re not a pariah.”
Diabetes diagnosis is an opportunity to grow
For those who know or love someone with Type 1 diabetes, Garber encourages them to become educated on the condition. Talk about it or learn about the illness through websites and support groups. While a Type 1 diagnosis at a young age can be difficult for a patient’s loved ones, Garber looks at the bright side of things. “Especially for parents and for grandparents, you can see this as an opportunity to grow,” says Garber. “You learn more about your body. You take better care of yourself. There are a lot of positive things that can come out of these diagnoses.”