Remembering Mary Tyler Moore: Hollywood Icon and Type 1 Diabetes Advocate


Diagnosed with T1D in her 30s, Moore became a sign of hope for others living with the disease.

Emmy award winner Mary Tyler Moore, known for her roles onThe Mary Tyler Moore ShowandThe Dick Van Dyke Show, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 80 years.

Aside from being a television icon, Moore was a fierce advocate for type 1 diabetes (T1D), according toWebMD. In 1970, Moore was diagnosed at the age of 33 years, just asThe Mary Tyler Moore Showwas starting to take off.

TheAmerican Diabetes Associationestimates that 1.25 million children and adults in the United States are living with T1D.

For decades, Moore advocated for more diabetes research as well as for patients living with the disease, reportedWebMD. At the start of 1983, she became the international chairwomen of JDRF—–previously known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Today, JDRF is the leading global organization in T1D research.

“Over the past 30 years, Moore educated about and increased awareness of T1D around the world, and raised millions of dollars for research that will one day lead to a cure,” JDRF wrote in astatement.

Moore, who was actively involved in JDRF’s Children’s Congress, sat alongside children diagnosed with T1D as they shared their stores with elected officials on Capitol Hill between 2005 and 2007, according to the JDRF statement. She also testified about the importance of continued research funding for T1D, which eventually helped lead to the development of common diabetes tools—–such as insulin pumps and glucose monitors––that were unavailable when she was diagnosed,WebMDreported.

“For at least the first 20 years that she had diabetes, she would not have been able to check her own blood sugars,” Andrew Ahmann, MD, director of the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Center at Oregon Health and Science University, toldWebMD. “And if you go back to the kinds of insulins available when she was diagnosed, there were less pure, less responsive, they might peak unexpectedly, compared to those we have today.”

Individuals with diabetes have an increased risk of high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. According to Ahmann, T1D appears to affect the brain as individuals age causing cognitive dysfunction.

As time passed, Moore reportedly developed complications related to her disease, including diabetic retinopathy, which affects the eyesight.

“With Moore’s passing, our country has lost an advocate, a hero, and a women who turned the world on with her smile both on and off the screen,” JDRF wrote.

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