Damon Wayans On How Brain Surgery Cured His Diabetes

by Ronke Idowu Reeves

Audiences have long known Damon Wayans, Sr., as a member of Hollywood’s "first family of comedy," the Wayans family. Lesser known is that the 56-year old actor and comedian is among celebrities who’ve come forward about their personal struggle with Type 2 diabetes.

The star of the beloved sketch comedy show In Living Color returns to the entertainment world later this month in the new action-comedy series Lethal Weapon, a reboot of the popular movie franchise that starred Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. (Check your local listings for times).

Z Living caught up with Wayans at The Paley Center for Media’s 10th Annual 2016 Paleyfest Fall TV Previews, where he discussed the personal health scare that had a profound effect on his status as a diabetic:

You play Roger Murtaugh in the newest version of Lethal Weapon. And when we first meet your character in the series, he reveals a chest-length scar he got from heart surgery. How does it feel to play a man at such a vulnerable stage in his life?

I’m kind of there in real life. I had brain surgery back in December 2015 to remove an egg-sized tumor from my pituitary gland. So when I read this script and read about the triple bypass surgery my character just went through, I cried. Because I felt like, I know this guy.

Also on Z Living:  You’ve Been Diagnosed With Prediabetes. Now What?

I had no idea that happened to you. How are you doing now? How has your recovery been?

The recovery was hard. It was like three months of being super disoriented and then I shot the [Lethal Weapon] pilot [episode]. And that was the beginning of me using my brain again. Because it’s a very invasive process, they went in through my nose, drilled past my skull to remove this thing.  And you know something’s missing. I felt like somebody invaded my space. And it’s only now that I really feel 100% again.

You were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2013. How are you managing it with all of this?

Here’s what’s crazy: My diabetes went away when they removed the tumor.

Really? How exactly did that work? Did the doctors explain it to you?

So your pituitary is your master gland. And your master gland controls five other glands. And I was producing diabetic-like symptoms. One of your glands is your thyroid, another one is adrenals and I was having symptoms of diabetic but I wasn’t a diabetic. [After my surgery] I had gotten off needles [diabetic medication] in thirty-three days, because I wasn’t feeling diabetic. Then, I went on a Paleo diet because I was just not eating sugar and I was doing very well without needles. But ultimately, once they removed this tumor, [and ran tests] my blood sugar was normal.

Also on Z Living: Actor John Krasinski on Work-Life Balance & ‘The Hollars’

That’s incredible. I am so happy that you’re healthy, and for your recovery.

Thank you. Me too. It’s awesome. I’m happy to be healthy too.

Finally, you’re a 56-year old grandfather playing a 50-year old dad on Lethal Weapon and you still look as young as you did on In Living Color in the 90s. What’s your secret?

I eat well and I exercise. A lot of it is mental and spiritual along with a lot of positive thinking.

WATCH on Z Living: Change The Day You Die, where each week, one lucky person will get the chance to rewrite their future and start living a much healthier life. See a sneak peek here.

Tell us in the comments: Has diabetes affected your life, or someone you know? How so?


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