Kitty Castellini Wins Roche Diabetes Care’s Diabetes Heroes’ Torchbearer Challenge Roche to make $10,000 donation in Castellini’s name to South Jersey JDRF Chapter
INDIANAPOLIS—Roche Diabetes Care, makers of ACCU-CHEK products and services, is pleased to announce that Diabetes Living Today® Founder, President and CEO Kitty Castellini is the winner of Roche’s inaugural Diabetes Heroes’ Torchbearer Challenge.
Roche launched the online Diabetes Heroes program earlier this year to highlight and recognize historic and present-day individuals who have made important contributions to help others live full lives with diabetes. The site contains three groups: Trailblazers, Torchbearers and Everyday Heroes.
Trailblazers are scientists and researchers who have made important historic discoveries about how diabetes is diagnosed and treated. Torchbearers are present-day researchers, advocates and online community leaders who continue to blaze new trails in helping people with diabetes to live healthy, active lives. To increase the visibility of this very important group of modern-day heroes, Roche produced online video profiles of each Torchbearer and encouraged people to visit the site and “like” their favorite by Nov. 14, 2011, World Diabetes Day. Castellini received the most likes and as a result Roche will donate $10,000 in her name to the South Jersey JDRF Chapter.
“A diabetes hero is an ordinary person who finds the courage and strength to persevere and endure in spite of the overwhelming obstacles of diabetes,” said Castellini.
The Diabetes Heroes site remains active and will continue to promote the incredible work being done by Kitty and her colleagues to assist people living with diabetes. Visitors to the Diabetes Heroes website may also add their own Everyday Hero by visiting the site and adding their own hero to the growing list.
For more information about Diabetes Living Today®, please visit http://diabeteslivingtoday.com. To learn more about the Diabetes Heroes website, please visit http://www.accu-chek.com/microsite/heroes/index.html.
About Roche Diabetes Care
Roche Diabetes Care is a pioneer in the development of blood glucose monitoring systems and a global leader for diabetes management systems and services. For more than 30 years, Roche has been committed to helping people with diabetes live lives that are as normal and active as possible and has been helping healthcare professionals manage their patients’ condition in an optimal way. Today, the ACCU-CHEK portfolio offers people with diabetes and healthcare professionals innovative products, services and comprehensive solutions for convenient, efficient and effective diabetes management—from blood glucose monitoring through information management to insulin delivery. The ACCU-CHEK brand encompasses blood glucose meters, infusion pumps, lancing and data management systems. For more information, please visit accu-chek.com.
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is the world’s largest biotech company with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, virology, inflammation, metabolism and CNS. Roche is also the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics, tissue-based cancer diagnostics and a pioneer in diabetes management. Roche’s personalized healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostic tools that enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life and survival of patients. In 2010, Roche had over 80,000 employees worldwide and invested over 9 billion Swiss francs in R&D. The Group posted sales of 47.5 billion Swiss francs. Genentech, United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche has a majority stake in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more information: www.roche.com.
About Kitty Castellini
Kitty Castellini, Founder, President and CEO of Diabetes Living Today®, has more than 47 years of experience with diabetes. Castellini is recognized as a national thought leader about diabetes by pharmaceutical companies, research institutes and those living with the disease. She is an active advocate for cure-focused research and fundraising. In 2007, the U.S. Congress acknowledged Castellini’s impressive work in helping others who suffer from diabetes through her writing, fundraising and interviews. The State of New Jersey Senate honored her for her exemplary service, steadfast commitment and praiseworthy history of inspired leadership on behalf of her fellow citizens.
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(Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2008)
VINELAND – In her quest to become what she hopes is “a strong voice for people with diabetes,” a local woman has traveled to Florida this week, taking her burgeoning, Vineland-based radio show on the road.
Kitty Castellini, who astounded doctors after she survived a rare pancreas transplant that effectively cured her of her diabetes, took a weekly slot on local station WLVT 92.1 FM in December. She will try her hand tonight at broadcasting across the country when she meets with the inventor of a groundbreaking treatment for certain sufferers in his Miami research center.
“I asked to interview Dr. Camillo Ricordi because he is world-renowned,” Castellini said by phone Monday from Miami.
Ricordi, who is scientific director of the Diabetes Research Center at the University of Miami, invented the Ricordi chamber, a method of isolating insulin-producing islet cells, which can be transplanted into patients.
A simple letter Castellini wrote to his office received a favorable reply, she said.
In the past two months, Castellini’s impact through a variety of media channels has grown, she says. Her call-in radio show, heard every Tuesday, is now being streamed online for listeners and will launch its own Web site, www.diabeteslivingtoday.com, this morning, she said.
Afflicting an estimated 8 percent of people in the United States, diabetes is still comparatively misunderstood and under discussed, Castellini believes.
A resident of East Vineland, she was three when she was diagnosed with the illness, and by 2002 she was so sick that her frequent blood-sugar fluctuations were detected by her trained seizure dog, a beagle named Jamie.
Four years ago, she was being considered for islet-cell transplant a technique which allows a sufferer to live without insulin injections – but doctors decided she was a good candidate for a pancreatic transplant instead.
Tonight, she will broadcast live from Miami from 8 p.m., with her physician and cohost, endocrinologist Dr. Joseph J. Fallon.
The following is from the January 1, 2008 edition of “The Daily Journal“:
When Kitty Castellini goes on the air with her new call-in show Tuesdays on Cruisin’ 92.1 WVLT, Diabetes Living Today, she knows what she’s talking about — even if listeners may not.
A diabetic herself until getting a pancreas transplant three years ago, Castellini was kept busy fielding calls and questions from 8 to 9 p.m.
The Vineland resident was asked by the radio station to produce a show after appearing on another show last October.
So far, she has done three shows, and looks forward to reaching out to listeners every week.”There are a lot of people out there like myself and it’s a battle every day,” she said, adding that she hopes to get listeners to understand how diabetes affects every part of the body. “We’re giving back.”
A recent hour on the show included discussions of larger issues associated with Type 1 diabetes, which is diagnosed in childhood, as well as Type 2, which usually appears in adulthood due, in part to lifestyle.
Castellini has never done a radio show before, but she’s feeling at home behind the mic.
“Wake up Dr. Fallon!,” she boomed recently near the end of one program, referring to her endocrinologist, Dr. Joseph J. Fallon of Woodbury, like her a Type 1 diabetic and a show co-founder who encouraged her transplant.
Castellini and Fallon have a real goal for their time on the air, and hope to spread the word each week.
“Take a step back and rethink your diabetes,” she said. “Gget yourself under control and prevent these conditions that affect so many diabetics.”
During one broadcast, Fallon was not in the broadcast studio but was on standby to ask and to answer questions about diabetes, along with Castellini’s guest, Dr. Arijit Chakravarty, a transplant nephrologist at Lourdes Health System in Camden County.
Dr. Chakravarty’s presence may have accounted for the emergence of an aspect of diabetes not as well known as blood sugar levels and insulin pumps — diabetes’ relationship to kidney disease.
In a sense the kidneys are the gateway to the diagnosis of diabetes. Lab tests on the urine the kidneys generate while filtering a person’s blood, removing wastes and water from it and helping to control blood pressure, determine the levels of glucose, protein and ketones, which are produced by the breakdown of fat and muscle.
Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, for instance, if blood glucose after fasting is above 126 mg.
But the kidneys are also subject to damage from diabetes. Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney dialysis or replacement, Dr. Chakravarty told listeners.
Castellini added that 200,000 Americans currently receive kidney dialysis treatments.
And transplants of the pancreas are often accompanied by kidney transplants.
Doctors are not yet sure exactly how diabetes causes kidney damage, Dr. Chakravarty said after the show.
Kidney disease also can affect blood pressure. One third of the U.S. population suffers from hypertension, Dr. Fallon noted by telephone. It is also of particular concern to diabetics, who are advised to keep it lower than the general public’s with a norm of 130/80 recommended by the American Diabetes Association.
And it can affect the amount of a protein in the body that produces red blood cells, leading to anemia. One way to offset this deficiency is to use a manmade form of the protein, called Procrit. It was of interest to yet another caller, who was warned against overusing it.
There was good news for at least one caller, a Type 1 diabetic who wanted to know what the chances were of developing kidney disease after 25 years. Fifteen years without developing nephropathy, he was told, “may be a good prognosis.”
Castellini was also eager to end on an upbeat note. “Sometimes I want to slow down,” she admitted, But I still have a lot of energy for a transplant patient.
“I didn’t know how sick I was until I found out how good I could feel.”
Kitty Castellini, who had a pancreas transplant to beat the disease, has weekly show
By JULIET FLETCHER Staff Writer, 856-237-9020
(Published: December 26, 2007)
VINELAND – Ever since she tackled her diabetes, Kitty Castellini has vowed to raise her voice to reach others like her.
But she now finds herself in front of a microphone once per week, in a soundproof Vineland studio, broadcasting to four states.
And by her side is one of her doctors, endocrinologist Joseph Fallon, one of the first specialists she approached and himself a diabetic.
Every week, the pair beam out an entire hour of talk radio devoted to debunking and demystifying the illness and its many treatments.
When Castellini, 46, made a statement earlier in August to prove she had beaten the condition by spooning down an ice-cream sundae with peanut-butter cups, she was later brought into the studio at WVLT for a one-off interview.
Following that, Fallon says, the station invited her to make a more regular appearance. “And she invited me,” he said Monday.
Not that he sees this as an enjoyable diversion. “It’s not about fun, let me tell you. We have 8 percent of people in this country with diabetes. We have such a need.”
The duo is well-used to working together: After Castellini received a pancreas-only transplant in 2004, she turned to Fallon as a co-collaborator on a book in the works about her experience. Her giggly ebullience on the air – punctuated by chirpy anecdotes about her treatment and offering props to fellow survivor-guests – should be contrasted, Fallon says, by her debilitated condition before treatment began. “At one point, remember, she was blind,” he said. “She was beaten up to heck.”
The show, Diabetes Living Today, which launched in early December and goes out on WLVT every Tuesday at 8 p.m., has offered a departure for Castellini, in part, she says, because it busts open and reveals the collaborative relationship between a doctor and his patient – by mutual consent, of course.
“I really think it takes something that is so sacred, the privacy between doctor and patient kept behind closed doors, and brings it right out in the open,” she said, “and that is awesome.”
With Fallon as her foil, Castellini now pours her energy into enlisting fascinating – and sometimes very prestigious – guests for the show, which is sponsored by Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden and the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami. On a recent broadcast, she chatted with Robert Lawless, of Mays Landing, who has undergone two transplants and two cell-implanting operations in his fight against the disease since being diagnosed at 12.
“Diabetes affects every cell of the body,” he explained Monday. He appeared on the show, he said, because “I wanted to do something to prevent that devastation.”
And that educational reach is a factor Dr. Fallon says hospitals should not ignore. “Most hospitals lose money on diabetes patients,” he explained. “They have just so many conditions.” Advocating prevention – by telling people how to spot Type 2 diabetes, which can be developed – and otherwise advising current patients on up-and-coming treatments might be a way to help patients to handle the disease more effectively.
Fallon, of Woodbury, says once a month the show clashes with his meetings of the Medical Society of New Jersey. “That night, I’ll be on call by phone to answer anything,” he said. For his commitment to the show, Castellini rewards him with a persistent nickname, she says. “I call him my rockin’ doc.”
Diabetes patients interested in contacting or appearing on the show can contact Castellini at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To e-mail Juliet Fletcher at The Press:
The following is from the August 21, 2007 edition of “The Daily Journal“:
By David Iams: Special to The Daily Journal
Any lifelong diabetic freed by a pancreas transplant from the prospect of endless years of insulin injections and harsh rules on sugar intake could be forgiven and forgotten for planning to celebrate that freedom with a a sticky sweet banana split with all the trimmings.
What was memorable about the split Kitty Castellini created Sunday at General Custard’s in Vineland to celebrate the third anniversary of her transplant was that on top of the banana, vanilla custard, chocolate syrup, wet nuts, whipped cream and maraschino cherries were two Reese’s peanut butter cups.
Reese’s are symbolic for the Vineland woman because they were the first sweets she was allowed to eat after her transplant on Aug. 13 2004 at the University of Maryland Medical center in Baltimore.
They also symbolize the bond that developed between Castellini and her endocrinologist, Dr. Joseph J. Fallon Jr. of Woodbury, like her a Type 1 diabetic, between the time he told her she was a prime candidate for the procedure and the day in November 2004 when she went to Dr. Fallon with a packet of Reese’s pieces to see if he thought her well enough to consume them.
He opened the packet for her.
“My own signature,” she said about the topping on Monday, the official anniversary, back at General’s Custard for lunch with her husband, Gary, and for a review of the “third birthday” celebration the day before that drew 70 family members and friends, including Dr. Fallon and state Sen. Nick Asselta.
She had waited three years for the treat. Last year, she marked second birthday by going to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida for a rose ceremony, honoring her transplant donor and diabetics in general.
On the first birthday, she was still in recovery.
“It took 1 1/2 years, longer than normal,” she recalled.
Pancreatic transplants as an answer to diabetes go back to the late 1960s, but the number only began increasing about 20 years ago.
A total of more than 13,300 pancreas transplants have now been performed, according to statistics at the International Pancreas Transplant Registry at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine.
They are effective only against Type 1 diabetes, once known as Juvenile Diabetes, which developed at age 7.
In Type 1, the pancreas produces little or no insulin. In Type 2, which develops later in life, the pancreas produces insulin but the body doesn’t use it efficiently.
There also is so-called gestational diabetes, a temporary condition associated with pregnancy.
In most transplants, more than 75 percent, the patient’skidneys also are replaced simultaneously with the pancreas, usually from teh same donor.
Kidney failure, along with many other neurological and visual disorders are commonly associated with Type 1 diabetes.
A dual transplant appears to contribute to better survival rates for both organs, according to figures from the Mayo Clinic.
After five years, the survival rate for the pancreas in a simultaneous transplant is 70 percent, while the organ survival rate for other pancreas transplants is 52 percent.
But Castellini underwent a so-called PTA, a pancreas transplant alone. The reason was a combination of bureaucratic and logistical issues, according to Dr. Fallon.
Castellini had initially decided on a transplant because at the age of 43, her condition was worsening.
In addition to eye problems she was suffering a loss of short-term memory and earlier at the age of 41 had suffered a heart attack.
The PTA seemed reasonable to a transplant specialist at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden, Dr. Nasser I. Youssef, who said her small frame and lack of diabetic complications to her kidneys made the PTA feasible.
In addition, her health insurance company, instead of having the procedure done locally, insisted she go to the University of Maryland.
It was a good move in more ways than one.
Not only is the center a nationally known pancreas transplant facility, a donor organ became available “comparatively quickly,” according to Dr. Fallon.
“The stars were looking out for her,” he said.
Her health insurance covered the cost of the procedure, including doctors, organ procurement and follow-up care, including immuno-suppressants to prevent organ rejection.
Organ rejection is one reason a transplant is not a treatment option for pancreatic cancer, no matter how unfair it might seem to replace the pancreas of a diabetic whose condition, while chronic, is not necessarily fatal.
Cancer itself is a disease of the immune system, Dr. Fallon said.
A pancreatic transplant normally is accompanied by the use of three immune-suppressive drugs, added Dr. Youssif, who has performed about 80 tranplants at Lourdes since 1995 and who trained at the University of Minnesota.
The result is that the drugs that keep the body from rejectiong the transplant keep the body from attacking the cancer cells.
A patient with pancreatic cancer is far likelier to reject the transplant than a diabetic.
Ironically, people at high pancreatic cancer risk, those with one or more family members who died of it, are starting to turn to preventive removal of the pancreas, according to a report this month in the New York Times.
So far, 20 people have had all or part of their pancreas removed even though it means they will have to contend with severe diabetes the rest of their days.
Castellini still has to take anti-rejection medication. She consults twice a week with a nurse and tests her blood sugar once or twice a day – down from the 15 to 20 times daily at the outset.
And on her own she is championing the cause of the war on Type 1 diabetes across the nation.
She has met with Dr. Aaron I. Vinik, a prominent diabetes researcher who did gene research on the pancreas in 1983 by wrapping the pancreas of hamsters in cellophane in the search for the organ’s insulin-producing islet cells, and Dr. Camillo Ricordig, who is working on islet cell transplants and locally Dr. Thomas I. Margolis, a retinal specialist on diabetic eye disease.
She is also writing a book about fighting diabetes.
No publishing date has been set, but the tentative title is “A Doctor’s Wish, A Patient’s Dream.”
The book’s subtitle?
“I’ve been Cured: Pass the Reese’s.”