Andre Brown is a revolutionary. Better known as Doctor Dré, he is credited with introducing rap music to the wider culture in the USA. He is a pioneer. Originally from Long Island (as opposed to the West Coast producer and rapper) Doctor Dré was the D.J. for the Beastie Boys, a member of the hip-hop group Original Concept and a co-host of “Yo! MTV Raps” in the 1980s and 90s. He also has appeared in television, and movies.
At 55, Doctor Dré has been living with diagnosed type 2 diabetes since 2007, and he has faced many health challenges. Today he is visually impaired and legally blind. With a never giving up attitude, he’s fine with being seen as the extreme example for others at risk for or living with diabetes. “I want to show people they can do better; they can beat diabetes.” One way he wants to do this is to revolutionize health and wellness for people facing a life battling diabetes. Currently he is working on many projects including a book about his life and diabetes, coming out in early 2020.
When did you first remember hearing about diabetes in your life?
The first time I heard about diabetes was when I was a little boy. I heard about a man in our neighbourhood who was “stricken” with it. We heard whispers about it, but no one really spoke directly about it. We called it the sugar disease. Everyone had to be careful of it. You couldn’t see it, not until someone had an amputation.
Did you think it was serious when you were growing up?
It was serious and it wasn’t. Like looking at an open wound. It might get better, but it might not.
When were you diagnosed?
I was first diagnosed officially with type 2 diabetes in 2007. I had an accident at home. I did the thing I told my kids never to do which is don’t walk around in your stocking feet. And I was going up the stairs to get my son or my daughter and I stepped on what’s called a carpet nail that was sticking up. I couldn’t see it, but I felt it. I went downstairs and took my socks off and I saw a little tiny hole.
So, I put antibiotic cream on it and a band-aid around it. Eventually it just kept getting bigger and bigger. It became infected to a point where I was getting sick and feverish. I didn’t understand why. So, then I went to the doctor and he said,
“Your foot is really infected. We’re gonna have to cut your toe off. And, also, you know, you’ve got type 2 diabetes.”
I said, “No, no way. No way.” And that’s what got me on started on learning more and more about diabetes. That’s how it started for me.
What were you thinking about the new diagnosis, and what he said?
Well, my blood sugar was 383 mg/dL and the doctor also told me I was borderline to having a diabetic stroke or coma and that we’d have to bring my blood sugar down immediately and chop off my toe. And I said, “No, that’s not going to happen and he told me my toe would never heal.” Of course, I don’t fault the doctor for his words. My toe had an extreme infection.
Where you frightened about the diabetes diagnosis?
No, I wasn’t scared. You know what I did? I said to myself, “OK, you need to make a big change Dre! You let this part of your life go out of control for whatever reason, whatever’s bugging you. It’s time for you to change. I needed a self-revolution!”