Along with being an acclaimed concert soloist, mother of two and new-music advocate, cellist Alisa Weilerstein is an ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. At 9 years old, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Born in Rochester, N.Y., into a family of musicians, she believes strongly that the disease doesn’t need to be life-challenging or interfere with a successful career. "The perception of diabetes is that you're on dialysis and going blind by the time you're 30, and I just decided I wanted to prove I could sustain a schedule like everyone else," she said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. "I always thought that if I had a platform, I could help young people who are scared like I was."
Despite her busy schedule and full career, Weilerstein, 39, insists that "diabetes has never restrained my work as a musician," she said. "Of course it is a hassle and a burden sometimes, it’s something that I manage," said Weilerstein, who appears March 24 and 26 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in two works by Tchaikovsky. "It has never hindered any of my activities in any way. That’s the message I’m trying to spread through my work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
"All of us who work for the Diabetes Research Foundation also want to spread the message that insulin is a treatment, not a cure, and that we need to be vigilant about finding a real cure for diabetes."