The people we look up to.

It was three weeks ago that Tom Hanks revealed he’s living with Type 2 diabetes.

Tom Hanks is maybe my favorite living actor. Everything I’ve ever seen him in… He plays all of his roles so well that I have no trouble believing him as the character he portrays on stage and screen. I’ve got to think that’s exactly what an actor is going for when they play a part. If there was a movie star I’d really like to meet (other than maybe Sandra Bullock– for obvious reasons), it would probably be Tom Hanks. So the news of his diagnosis really hit me. And since then, I’ve been trying to find something profound to say about it.

Then, last Monday, Karmel Allison, who writes over at asweetlife.org, has lived with Type 1 diabetes since age 9, and is now 21 weeks pregnant, nearly passed out while standing behind the President of the United States. She was there because she wrote a fantastic post about how she views the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) as a Person With Diabetes. The President’s speech was about his signature piece of legislation. I haven’t seen anything from her that specifically says it was hypoglycemia, but in the video it sure looks like hypoglycemia to me. Anyway, that part really doesn’t matter… does it?

At any rate, I was on the road from Charlottesville to Baltimore when all this happened, so I didn’t even find out about it until the next day. And yes, I read the comments after many of the stories about the event posted on the web.

I was shocked. I was horrified at the mean, awful, hateful things written. Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, you have to admit that the vitriol spewed in her direction was ridiculously mean. Other than what I saw posted from the Diabetes Online Community, I did not see one positive, one semi-empathetic comment. Not one.

Meanwhile, Karmel has kept from writing awful, vindictive things in response to these hate filled attacks on her and our President. Her Twitter account has been almost silent since the event. Even though she has a right to be angry and lash out at people who hate her only because of her proximity to the leader of the free world during a speech in the rose garden, she appears to have taken the high road.

What does this have to do with Tom Hanks’ diagnosis from two weeks earlier? And what do these two events tell me? Just this:

Our heroes can and do develop diabetes.

Our heroes can be and are affected by diabetes.

Our heroes remain strong and retain our respect despite diabetes.

These words apply to everyone out there telling their story through laughter, advocacy, sadness, athleticism, schools, careers, successes, and failures too. Tell your story honestly, with empathy for all and resilience against all odds, and I will always look up to you.

And no amount of hate can take that away.
 
 
 

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