Disease is something that does not discriminate. Every single human could potentially develop some sort of disease, no matter their ethnicity or status in society. Micheal J. Fox is a well-known victim of Parkinson’s disease. He has been an open book about the effects of the motor neuron disease, and the daily struggles he faces. Not to mention how it has affected his career. Little did he know, it wasn’t the only health scare he would have to deal with.
Parkinson’s from a young age
Michael J. Fox, the well-loved Back To The Future star rose to fame from a young age. His character was enjoyed on-screen and off. He was married only three years when he found out he had Parkinson’s disease. The diagnosis did bring to light the reasons for some of his symptoms, but the shock was still a lot to cope with. He was only 29 years old at the time. Luckily, his wife has stuck by him through it all.
Fox decided in 1998 to come out with his disease to the public, seven years after he was diagnosed. “My fear was that if they knew I had an illness, a condition, that they wouldn’t be able to laugh,” said Fox to BBC Breakfast. “You know it was a really strange period of time because over a period of seven years that I kept it to myself.“
Even though Parkinson’s affects your short-term memory, Fox managed to keep up with his acting career. He had a lead role in “Spin City” from 1996 to 2001. Then, from 2010 to 2016 he had a reoccurring role in the “Good Wife”.
Shooting outside 30 Rock nyc. This is cold…even for a Canadian. pic.twitter.com/fbHxLlVx— Michael J. Fox (@realmikefox) February 2, 2013
People interviewed Michael J. Fox in 2020. He was extremely candid about his struggles with Parkinson’s, and ow it has affected his memory. He said: “My short-term memory is shot.” In other words, he is struggling to remember things that happened recently. Subsequently, he struggles to remember his lines in the scripts. “I always had a real proficiency for lines and memorization,” Fox added. “And I had some extreme situations where the last couple of jobs I did were actually really word-heavy parts. I struggled during both of them.”
These days, Parkinson’s disease has taken away his ability to do many of the creative things he used to do. So, Fox started writing. “My guitar playing is no good. My sketching is no good anymore, my dancing never was good, and acting is getting tougher to do. So it’s down to writing. Luckily, I really enjoy it,” he said.
A second diagnosis
Seeing as Fox was already struggling with one disease, no one saw the second diagnosis coming. However, in 2018, he had severe pain throughout his whole body. After a few tests, his doctors found a cancerous tumor in his spine. Fox said: “was definitely my darkest moment.”
Rather than wallowing in self-pity of having both Parkinson’s and cancer, Fox tried to maintain a grateful outlook on life. He says that is the key to optimism. “Optimism is sustainable when you keep coming back to gratitude, and what follows from that is acceptance,” says Fox. “Accepting that this thing has happened, and you accept it for what it is. It doesn’t mean that you can’t endeavor to change. It doesn’t mean you have to accept it as a punishment or a penance, but just put it in its proper place. Then see how much the rest of your life you have to thrive in, and then you can move on.”
Founder of a Parkinson’s research organization
At some point, Fox found out that scientists actually have much more knowledge about Parkinson’s than what the medical institutions can offer. Ultimately, there isn’t enough funding for the research that is needed. “I started talking to scientists and they started telling me the science is ahead of the money,” said Fox. “We know more than we can pay for. We understand more than we’re getting. and i thought well, I can do that,”
So, Michael J. Fox founded The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. They do fund-raisers for the research that is needed. according to the website, they are: “dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today and exists ‘to accelerate the next generation of Parkinson’s disease (PD) treatments”.
Additionally, the foundation offers a help line for anyone who might be struggling with Parkinson’s. So, if you or any loved one has the disease, you can find the support you need. Furthermore, they will point you in the right direction for treatments.
- “Michael J. Fox Reveals He’s Struggling with Memorization Skills Crucial for Acting.” People. Kate Coyne and Ally Mauch. November 4, 2020
- “Michael J Fox explains why he kept Parkinson’s diagnosis secret from fans for seven years.” Lad Bible. Poppy Bilderbeck. October 11, 2022.