Mind and Body

Actress Elizabeth Perkins discusses life with diabetes

Actress Elizabeth Perkins discusses how 'co-stars' help her manage and cope with diabetes


Actress Elizabeth Perkins is speaking out for National Diabetes Month – the Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated actress was diagnosed in 2005, so she feels passionate about it.

Diabetes is the fastest-growing health epidemic in the world, affecting 26 million Americans and 371 million people worldwide.

Related: Famous faces of type 1 diabetes

“I was worried what the producers were going to think.”

- Elizabeth Perkins

“I was feeling fatigue, headache, blurry vision, excessive thirst and lost a lot of weight,” said the actress known for her role opposite Tom Hanks in the 1980s flick “Big,” and more recently in Showtime’s “Weeds.”

Friends suggested taking antidepressant medication, but Perkins refused.

“I didn’t feel good, and the diagnosis just came through a routine blood test,” she explained, adding her blood sugars were in the high 600s. “It’s amazing I hadn’t gone into a coma.”

Perkins said she felt isolated by the disease, so she’d take her insulin alone in her trailer while working on set.

“I was worried what the producers were going to think,” she said.

It wasn’t until she began to open up about her feelings to her family and co-workers that she realized the power of support. Through the support process, Perkins and her family actually became healthier – they all learned how to eat better and exercise regularly.

Perkins has partnered with Sanofi U.S. to work on the campaign “Diabetes Co-Stars,” which promotes diabetes awareness and celebrates those who are there for people managing the disease on a daily basis.

Perkins’ diagnosis prompted a lifestyle overhaul: Cutting out sweets wasn’t enough; she had to eliminate starch from her diet because the body breaks it down into sugar.

Perkins warned against “feeding the pump,” which is a subcutaneous device that injects your body with insulin with the press of a button. Patients often gain weight within the first few months of using the device because the body stores insulin as fat.

The key, Perkins said, is to manage your diet and to use as little insulin as possible. If her blood sugar level should get too low, Perkins said she relies on glucose pills to minimize her caloric intake.

“I’m here to get the awareness out,” she said. “It’s important to just be honest and aware of it. I’m very proud to be involved.”

Perkins’ most dedicated co-star? Her husband, Julio Macat, who is co-producing a documentary with Perkins about diabetes’ patients and the people who support them.

Check out diabetescostars.com and submit a video or written testimonial about your diabetes co-star – and you could be featured in Perkins’ documentary.