[IPp] Alias actor wants to see cure for the "tyranny" of diabetes in his lifetime
I never knew this guy had T1D...
Alias actor wants to see cure for the "tyranny" of diabetes in his lifetime
Tue Nov 11, 4:40 PM ET
TORONTO (CP) - It's hard to imagine actor Victor Garber (news), who plays
nerves-of-steel spymaster Jack Bristow on TV's popular Alias, getting choked up
over the idea of being able to spread jam on toast.
For Garber, 54, who was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 12, the mere
thought was a luxury he wouldn't consider. So when he saw a fellow Type 1
diabetic do just that in a TV news report on the Edmonton protocol - an
innovative but still experimental procedure which appears to free juvenile
diabetics (news - web sites) of insulin dependence - he was blown away.
"A diabetic who'd been insulin dependent for something like 30 years was shown
getting up in the morning and putting jam on a piece of toast. It was the first
day he did not have to check his blood sugar or take insulin. And I literally
burst into tears, thinking: 'Oh my God,' " Garber said recently.
"I don't even allow myself to think what that would feel like."
Garber reaction had nothing to do with fruit spreads. It had to do with the
idea that people like him could be cured of a disease he calls "a tyranny."
"Here's the thing: I'm not looking to slather jam on my bread. But to have the
option would be really nice. And to not have to worry when I go to bed at night
'Am I going to wake up in the middle of the night?' he says, referring to the
fact he needs to check his blood sugar during the night.
Garber, who grew up in London, Ont., really hasn't spoken publicly about being
a diabetic. But that is changing.
He just signed on as the spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research
Foundation of Canada, which supports research aimed at finding a cure for
It's estimated that about 200,000 Canadians are Type 1 diabetics.
People with Type 1 diabetes - it used to be called juvenile diabetes, because
the onset occurs in childhood - cannot produce the insulin their bodies need to
convert sugar into energy. In addition to taking regular insulin injections,
they must carefully monitor their blood sugar level to ensure it is neither too
high nor too low.
"Thank God for insulin and thank God for the advances they've made," Garber
"It's not enough. That's the bottom line. We're so close to finding a cure and
we just need people's awareness and support to do it.
"I just want it to occur in my lifetime."
As he talks of the disease and its impact on his life, his enthusiasm for the
prospect of a cure is infectious.
"When I was a kid, there was no hope. You were told: This is your life. This is
what you're going to be doing for the rest of your life. And that was kind of a
hard thing to hear at 12," he admits.
"Now there is hope. There is hope that this won't always be the way it is. And
we have to focus on that. I do, anyway."
His involvement in the cause evolved from his interest in the work of the team
behind the Edmonton protocol and a chat with his sister during which she
mentioned the foundation was looking for a celebrity to front their efforts.
"In the back of my mind I thought: I'd love to meet some of these researchers.
I'd love to find out more about it. But I hadn't really pursued it. So when this
occurred - my sister talked to me - I said 'Have them call me. I'd be interested
if they're interested in me.'
"And it seemed they were - I guess because I'm on television now."
That role in Titanic - the highest grossing movie ever - as ship designer
Thomas Andrews probably didn't hurt either. "There's THAT," he concedes
Self-deprecation aside, Garber had an acclaimed career long before he began
playing Jennifer Garner (news)'s father on the small screen.
After making a name for himself as the lead in the early '70s musical Godspell,
he's worked consistently in TV and film. But it's his stage work for which he's
best known - until Alias, that is - having garnered multiple Tony nominations
for a variety of Broadway plays including Damn Yankees and Lend Me a Tenor.
He admits it's "gratifying" to be at a point in his career where he can lend
this type of support.
"It means a great deal to me, because it's obviously important. It's personal.
. . . It's my life."
Rachel - email @ redacted
"If you're quiet, you're not living. You've got to be noisy, colorful and
lively" - Mel Brooks
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