Michael J. Fox Candididly Speaks About Living With Parkinson’s Since He Was 29

10 months ago

At the peak of his career and a very young age, Michael J. Fox received the news that would change his life forever. It took him seven years to tell it publicly, but when he finally opened up to the world, he decided to do something with the power that fame had given him. Many years later, with sincerity and realistic optimism, he talks about what it was like growing up with Parkinson’s and leaves an encouraging message for all those going through a similar situation.

There are certain scenes in movies that one can’t forget, and one of them is when Marty McFly picks up that Gibson ES-345 guitar and plays “Johnny B. Goode.” Almost four decades later, perhaps the value of Michael J. Fox’s work has become more important because of everything that happened to him afterward.

In 1991, after the premiere of the third part of Back to the Future, the actor received the news that he had Parkinson’s disease. Today, at 61, in the context of the premiere of an autobiographical film, he can speak about his disease with the sincerity that has always characterized him and all the complexities and reflections that appeared in his life.

“It’s horrible to have Parkinson’s disease... It’s harder and harder, every day you suffer, but that’s the way it is.” Although he always remains optimistic, even joking at times about his tremors and so on, this time we could see what the actor, who has been living for more than 30 years with the disease, feels.

“I know I’m not going to make it to 80, I’m not going to be 80,” he told the CBS Sunday Morning interviewer. And it sounds harsh, but it seems to be a part of him that has surfaced in STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie, the Apple TV±produced documentary about the actor’s life. One of the reviews remarked how the film’s interviewer has to press him to talk about his pain.

The progressive damage of Parkinson’s in the brain not only produces tremors or stiffness in the muscles but also leads patients to suffer injuries of all kinds. The actor has had fractures in the bones of his face, in his arms, hip injuries, and even had to undergo surgery for a benign tumor in his back, which further modified the way he walked.

“Even if it attacks you in all these subtle ways, you don’t die of Parkinson’s, you die with it,” he acknowledged in the interview. Watching him talk like this, you can see the maturity in his words and in his actions. Compared to the seven years after his diagnosis, when he hid the disease and resorted to certain addictions, we see an entirely different person today.

Michael could have gone on with his life, taking advantage of his fame and money to treat himself in the most innovative ways, but he wanted to do something for everyone. So in 2000, he launched the Michael J. Fox Foundation to raise funds and conduct research related to his condition. In fact, an encouraging discovery has been made these days.

The study found a biomarker for Parkinson’s — a substance to detect the disease. “This changes everything. In five years you will be able to know if you have it, if you ever will have it, and how to treat it,” the actor said.

At one of the screenings of his documentary, Fox demonstrated a bit more about his view of things. “I can feel sorry for myself, but I don’t have time for that. There are things to learn from this, so let’s do it and move on,” he confessed.

In his words, we can read a certain attitude of “This is what I get, I’m not going to throw myself on the floor and cry.” And each person is free to face these circumstances as they want and as they can, but he chose acceptance and understood that he could help thousands of people if he wanted to. And he has been doing so for 23 years with his foundation.

In November 2022, Michael received an honorary Oscar for the work done by his foundation, which to date has raised over $1.75 billion for research. Seeing the standing applause from his colleagues, the actor said, “Guys, you’re making me shake, stop it.” This made the whole room laugh, and of course, showed once again his attitude in the face of the inevitable.

Taking things as Michael J. Fox takes them is not easy. His name, his money, his fame, his family, it’s all unique, and he probably has no comparison to the rest of the people in the world with Parkinson’s disease. But in his latest interview, the actor summed up his way of thinking in a few words, and it’s a good starting point for anyone going through such a disease.

“I recognize how hard this is for people and I recognize how hard it is for me, but I have a certain set of skills that allow me to deal with these things and I realize, with gratitude, that optimism is sustainable. If you can find something to be grateful for, then you find something to look forward to, and you keep going.”

© realmikejfox / Instagram, Casey Flanigan / IS / MPI / Capital Pictures / East News

Knowing more about the lives of certain celebrities helps to humanize them and to understand that they also suffer from the same problems as the rest. The luxury that often surrounds celebrities is more a product of the media, but behind closed doors they suffer, laugh, enjoy themselves, and even some, like Michael J. Fox, offer their help to people with fewer resources.

Preview photo credit Casey Flanigan / IS / MPI / Capital Pictures / East News


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