Here's a little note from me, just another "sweet" fan, to you. I so enjoyed the thrilling performance you gave for my friends and I at the Honda Center yesterday evening. We know you are a talented singer, songwriter, musician, and actor (and now I can verify also "rockin' live performer"). I've been a fan since I was singing along to Jonas Brothers' "SOS" while working my first job in high school. Now I watch you fight in the gritty Navy St. gym on DirecTV's "Kingdom" and listen to you sing about "Champagne Problems" as a college grad with a small business. We have both grown and evolved quite a bit since you first came on the scene.
It occurred to me that you and I have at least a few more things in common. We both come from supportive, loving families with awesome brothers. Our childhoods were shaped by Disney, in one way or another. We've both been raised to have serious respect for the "rock 'n roll baptism, rock 'n roll bar mitzvah" that is a Bruce Springsteen concert.
And then there's this other thing we have in common: we both live with type 1 diabetes. I remember hearing about your diagnosis when it became public so many years ago, but I had no idea what any of that truly meant until my own diagnosis in 2014. I've heard it said that the type 1 diabetes community is the club you would never choose to join, that has the most amazing people as members. At this point in my life post-diagnosis, I've met many people that prove that statement to be true. In fact, my evening at your concert was the result of an incredible birthday present from a family of friends that truly exemplify that saying (thanks again, Hinman family!).
I am not typically someone who concerns themselves with the private lives of celebrities, but your willingness to make your private life with diabetes accessible to the public has made a difference in countless lives, including mine. Many times, when encountering someone who doesn't know much about diabetes at all, their faces light up in friendly recognition when they realize that they once read that Nick Jonas has that condition. Whether people remember your moving performance of "A Little Bit Longer" after your diagnosis became public, read an interview where you mentioned managing your diabetes, or spotted you in a print ad for the Dexcom CGM, your open door policy on this illness benefits awareness and acceptance across the board.
The way you talk about diabetes to the public is the way I imagine you handle it behind closed doors: with a level head and perspective on where you came from and where you still plan to go. Your interviews read as reasonable and well-informed. Your product endorsements are not heavy-handed and come across as beneficial to all parties involved. As an OmniPod and Dexcom wearer, I get a kick out of knowing that we must be of similar mind enough to choose the same tools to manage our diabetes, day in and day out. But it isn't just me who notices the devices you've chosen; there are children (and adults) all across this country, and the world, who look to you. They see your pump and CGM. They hear you talk about the challenges of diabetes,but also how you navigate and overcome those challenges while on tour or whatever else it is that you decide to do (because you don't allow your diabetes to dictate what you can or cannot do, or what goals you will pursue). They listen to your music, watch you on television, and see you perform, and they internalize the message that the dreams they have are also within reach.
I grabbed a copy of the Spring 2015 issue of Diabetes Forecast from the diabetes shelf of my local Good Neighbor Pharmacy a few months ago because I saw you on the cover. The article was nice, the pictures were great (lookin' good, Nick!), but it was two of the quotes you gave that have stuck with me.
"Although it's definitely challenging to live with, diabetes can be a blessing in a lot of ways. It's made me a really focused person."
I could spend so many words unpacking that statement, but I'd rather just note the fact that within that one sentence, you acknowledged that diabetes is a challenge, despite its manageability. That resonates with so many, trying to live "normal" lives, simultaneously balancing both the manageability and yet the possibility of imminent danger that is always simmering on the backburner. You also lay out that you're able to separate the bad from the good that comes from this disruptive disease; seeing it as something that has the potential to be a blessing. Lastly, you recognize that living with diabetes has made you a more focused person. I see it the same way. We do the best we can with the challenges of the disease, but we also make the choice to see the blessings in this life that we were chosen to live, gratefully acknowledging that enormous personal development and responsibility comes from this unique experience.
"Diabetes has kept me centered. I want to take action and do something good with it."
When you challenged the founder of CrossFit when he (rudely) mischaracterized diabetes and refused to back down, even after being presented with science that disproved his stance (which came from a highly influential place as the founder of such a popular mode of fitness training), you took a stand. It was proof that no one in this community stands alone. We have each others' backs. You easily could have let someone else fight that battle, but you took it upon yourself to make sure people knew the truth about type 1. Your charitable contribution of time, talent, and treasure as a founder of Beyond Type 1 is just another way that you are demonstrating how invested you are in promoting a high quality of life for people with type 1 diabetes in addition to working towards an eventual cure. You wanted to take action and make something good out out of all of this and you're doing it. It's happening. That's the same sentiment that helped build the foundation for GraceMark Wellness & Lifestyle Coaching; knowing that I have the power to choose to take my struggle and make something good out of it. Keep at it, Nick. I'd like to think I speak for many of us in the type 1 diabetes family when saying that when you set out to live beyond type 1 by building a community through your advocacy, you've accomplished just that.
As you've said, we ARE strong together. So when you get up on stage in front of all of your screaming fans, remember that you are instrumental in building upon that strength, and your work is appreciated. We love your music (and your gritty television drama--where I once caught a quick glimpse of your Dexcom sensor), but it's what you have done, and continue to do, with your platform as a musician and actor that has made the difference.
Come back and see us in Orange County again soon! We'd love to have you and you are certainly welcome here anytime. I know a few people who would love to greet you personally to thank you for your contribution to both the arts and the type 1 community (myself included).