The day before I was diagnosed with diabetes I had a pretty good idea of what “success” meant to me. The day after my diagnosis my definition of success was somewhat different.
Instead of measuring success in dollars, cents and achievements, I realized true success was measured in time. Time to spend with loved ones. Time to make a difference. Time to touch lives.
While I had no idea where this turn in the road would take me, one thing was clear – I had millions of fellow travelers and I had to speak out for myself and for them. In the past few months, many people have asked if a celebrity has the responsibility to share a diagnosis, such as diabetes, with the world. Those of us in the public eye are quick to promote a film, a cook book, a new line of products. Sales of these things are indications of success. But as my diagnosis taught me, true success is not found in storing up treasures, it is found in treasuring what is truly important.
So, again the question: “Does a celebrity have the responsibility to share a diagnosis of diabetes?” I can answer only for myself. To keep such a diagnosis secret is to miss the opportunity to impact the world more than a film or book or other project could. I did not think twice about immediately coming forth as a diabetic. It was not a matter of “Should I do this?” It was always “How could I possibly do anything else?
It’s been about a year now that I found out I had type 2 diabetes. What a year it has been. Not only am I directing a film on diabetes, I created a mall testing event that we launched in Orlando. I created my own sugar-free line of chocolate, had features in scores of magazines, newspapers and TV shows. I am always talking about diabetes. I am speaking out for those who do not have the platform I am blessed to have. I am not here to brag about what I have done but to take a breath and look back at what's ahead.
I would not take back my diagnosis of diabetes. To tell you the truth, the thing that I feared could take my life is one of the main things that made me realize how amazing life is. The new friends I have met are amazing, brave and inspiring. For them, for the millions of others like them, and for myself, I will not stop educating or stop fighting our common enemy.
President John F. Kennedy quoted the Bible when he said: “To those whom much is given, much is expected.” I have been given the opportunity to help, and I will continue to speak out just as I have since the first day of my diagnosis.