Type 1: Act 2
I only cried once about being type 1. I was 6 years old and had just been diagnosed. The ER doctor told me I would have to have a shot every time I ate for the rest of my life. That’s when I cried. And then I didn’t anymore. It was freaky, but I realized the idea of the shots and pokes was scarier than actually getting them and I was ready for life to get back to normal. It was just a different normal than I was used to.
Before I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D), I read about the giant trash pile in the Pacific Ocean and how bottom trawling and shark finning were ruining our oceans. Even though I was only 6, I wanted to try and help save our oceans. My parents helped me make a website to teach people about our oceans and I also raised money by making and selling bottle cap magnets. After I was diagnosed I learned about the Bayer Simple Wins contest. It was a contest for kids with T1D who were making a difference in their community. Because of the work I was doing raising awareness, I decided to enter. I was shocked when I won. Not only did I win $5,000 to donate to the Surfrider Foundation but I got to meet Nick Jonas!
After winning the contest I got to fly out to Los Angeles. I did some interviews about my cause and not only met Nick Jonas, but spent time talking to him, watched him play softball, rehearse and perform in front of thousands of people. Nick told me about when he was diagnosed and what it was like being an actor and musician with T1D. I told him I was afraid to use an insulin pump so he showed me his pump which convinced me to try pumping myself! (Now I love it.) After meeting Nick and seeing all he could do, even though he had T1D, I realized I didn’t need to let anything stop me. He inspired me to follow my dreams, and I knew then my dream was to be an actor like him.
When I was 10 years old, I had the opportunity to be in a feature film in my hometown in Utah. On that movie I met an amazing actor who helped me get a manager and agent in Los Angeles. My mom and I drove out to Los Angeles for a few weeks at a time. I was lucky to book a few projects and now I live in L.A. and pursue acting full-time!
When I first came out to L.A. I had some people ask me how I was going to be able to handle acting and having type1. Just like doing anything with T1D, I handle it by being a little more prepared and aware. Whenever I’m on set I make sure I have all of my supplies with me and I always bring lots of juice boxes. I learned the hard way that eating a handful of Skittles for a low can leave you with a mucky, messy mouthful when the director says, “action”.
When I’m acting, I’m fortunate to have someone who always helps me monitor my blood sugar—my mom. She is able to watch my blood sugar on my continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and help before I go too low or too high. We always let the 1st AD and the director know I have T1D and then my mom can step in to bring me juice or help me deliver insulin from my remote meter when I need it. I’m lucky to have so many great tools to keep me on track.
Just like doing any kind of activity with T1D there are a few tricky things to deal with when I’m acting. Sometimes my wardrobe doesn’t work with my pump or pump sites. On one project my character only wore sleeveless shirts so I couldn’t do any arm sites for a month while we were filming. There is also a lot of food on set, all the time, so it means closer monitoring and sometimes a little self-restraint when it comes to the jars of candy at craft service.
I’m happy to be an actor with T1D. I hope that one day I’ll be able to inspire other kids with T1D, just like Nick Jonas inspired me. Type 1 has not kept me from doing anything I’ve wanted. In fact, I think sometimes I work harder than kids who don’t have T1D, because I want everyone to know this disease should never stop you from doing anything you dream you can do.
My T1D Tips
- Having type 1 diabetes doesn’t mean you’re not normal; you just have a different normal.
- There are lots of people with type 1 diabetes doing amazing things—let them inspire you.
- Being prepared and aware means type 1 diabetes doesn’t have to keep you from doing what you love.
- There are lots of great tools available to help with type 1 diabetes. Don’t be afraid to try them; they might work great for you.
- It’s better to have a mouthful of juice than a mouthful of candy when the director says, “action”.
- Never let type 1 diabetes stop you from doing anything you dream you can do!
Want to see Gavin act? Click HERE. Follow him on Facebook.