Between out-of-town guests staying with me for the month, and various other issues going on in my personal life, I've been busy as of late. But I was really saddened when I learned that my good friend Kitty Castellini passed away on Sunday (June 19, 2016). I'd met Kitty quite a few times at various diabetes conferences and meetings over the years, but we continued to speak by telephone in between.
|Kitty's most widely distributed photo|
from Diabetes Living Today®
She did a video when we attended one of the Roche conferences, which can be viewed HERE:
As you might have guessed, Kitty was a fellow person with Type 1 diabetes (having lived with it for some 50 years) perhaps best known for the weekly radio show she previously hosted known as "Diabetes Living Today®". People need to know that the show was entirely her creation, and she really largely did everything, from identify and subsequently booking guests for the show, design and maintenance of the show's website and in 2007, she even registered for legal trademark protection of Diabetes Living Today®. But she enjoyed her work, although she was also very protective of it.
Several years ago, her then-business relationship with her former radio co-host Dr. Joseph J. Fallon started to deteriorate. He, in Kitty's own words, "thought he was going to be the next Dr. Oz" and he tried to claim ownership rights to "Diabetes Living Today®", which as I noted, Kitty started, owned, arranged all of the guests, came up with the agenda for the program, managed the show's website, even owned all the trademarks. Just because she wasn't an MD didn't mean she was clueless. When Dr. Fallon tried to claim ownership of the program (my impression was he tried to bully her), Kitty did not take the threat lying down, even though she was beginning to have her own health issues.
|Happier times with Kitty and Dr. Fallon|
I mentioned that Kitty was having some health issues. Actually, Kitty underwent a Pancreas transplant in 2004 (I don't recall that being diabetes-related even if she got a break from using insulin for a few years). Indeed, at the time, she was the longest pancreas-alone transplant patient in the entire world, but her transplanted pancreas failed in 2013 from a virus, which meant she went back on an insulin pump. Fortunately, she took it all in stride, and because she knew all about insulin and pumps having used them for decades, she was able to return without too much difficulty. But then, to make matters even worse, in July 2015, Kitty found out she was no longer just dealing with diabetes and a failed pancreas transplant, she had leukemia too. Her husband Gary was really wonderful through the entire experience, if Kitty's phone calls were any reflection.
|Kitty and Gary Kleiman. Look how long her hair was then!|
Tonight are the services for Kitty in South Jersey. I wish I was able to go and pay my respects, but its a several hour drive and I have several guests who are in from out-of-the-country whom I can't just dump. I will instead honor her wishes with a gift to one of both the charities she asked people remember her with. Her obituary is HERE and she asked that memorial donations be made to the JDRF or the Cumberland County SPCA. She continues to be remembered on social media, and the following hashtags have been generated in honor of Kitty: #DOC4Kitty and #welovekitty - as others have mentioned, use them with love and across all social media platforms.