‘Optimism is sustainable’: Michael J Fox talks about his worsening Parkinson’s
Back To The Future film series star Michael J Fox has said that “optimism is sustainable” in the face of Parkinson’s despite the disease becoming “harder and tougher” to live with.
The 61-year-old activist and former Hollywood actor – who was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease a year after Back To The Future Part III was released in 1990 – is also known for the films Teen Wolf and Doc Hollywood along with the series Spin City.
Fox told CBS Sunday Morning: “It sucks, having Parkinson’s… for some families, some people, it’s a nightmare, it’s a living hell. They have to deal with realities that are beyond most people’s understanding.
“I’m alive… it’s getting tougher, it’s getting harder, every day you suffer but that’s the way it is. You know, who do I see about that?”
The condition causes parts of the brain to become progressively damaged over many years, according to the NHS website.
The three main symptoms are involuntary shaking of parts of the body, known as tremors, slow movement, and stiff and inflexible muscles.
Fox – who starred in all the Back To The Future movies in the science fiction trilogy which began in 1985 – has had a string of injuries from falling, including breaking bones in his face and other parts of his body, along with a benign tumour on his spine.
He added: “All these subtle ways that get you, you don’t die from Parkinson’s, you die with (the condition). I’m not going to be 80. I won’t be 80.”
Fox also said: “I recognise how hard this is for people and recognise how hard it is for me but I have a certain set of skills that allow me to deal with this stuff and I realise, with gratitude, optimism is sustainable.
“If you can find something to be grateful for then you find something to look forward to and you carry on.”
Fox founded The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000 which has raised more than 1.75 billion dollars (£1.39 billion) for research funding, according to the charity’s website.
The foundation also sponsored a study, which came out this month, that says researchers have discovered a biomarker for Parkinson’s.
A Michael J. Fox movie. #Still premieres May 12 on Apple TV+ pic.twitter.com/EblrrsOJqR
— Apple TV (@AppleTV) April 6, 2023
Fox said: “This changes everything. I know where we are right now. In five years, they will be able tell if you have it, they will be able to tell if you’re ever going to get it and we’ll know how to treat it.”
The actor, who has four children with his wife, actress Tracy Pollan, retired in 2020.
He was honoured at the Governors Awards with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, an honorary Oscar recognising outstanding philanthropic efforts in November and is to release an Apple+ documentary.
Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, out in May, tells his story in his own words, including his “personal and professional triumphs”, and he talks more about his Parkinson’s.