Michael J. Fox opened up about his Parkinson’s diagnosis in 1998, after battling the disease since 1991. While filming Doc Hollywood, he noticed one of his fingers on his left hand was twitching, and he couldn’t control it. After a visit with the doctor, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. While some of us might have been broken by the diagnosis, Fox has striven to find gratitude and stay in the side of optimism.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation has raised over 1 billion dollars, and he’s taking aim at the disease. “We are loading up all the cannons we can and pointing them at the target,” Fox says. “One of them will fire and it will happen. The disease is a problem that will be there until you solve it. But we’re hopeful.”
Parkinson’s is a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system. The symptoms usually emerge slowly, and as the disease worsens, non-motor symptoms become more common. The most obvious early symptoms are tremor, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking.
How is Fox feeling physically? “I’m in a really good groove,” he says. “Every day is different. The circle [of what I can do] gets smaller. But I’m happy I’ve found things in the middle of the circle that can’t be touched, like my family and the time I have with them.”
Michael J. Fox has been an inspiration for generations. His seemingly-limitless optimism, class and talents have charmed us for decades. He wrote about his lowest point in his fourth memoir ‘No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality,’ when in 2018, they found a noncancerous tumor on his spine. It was growing rapidly and causing excruciating pain. “I was heading for paralysis if I didn’t get it operated on,” he explained.
The operation came with significant risks, but thankfully, was successful. He then began the process of learning how to walk again. While recouping with family at Martha’s Vineyard, he returned to their NYC apartment alone to shoot a small part in a Spike Lee movie. On the morning of the shoot, he fell in the kitchen and broke his arm.
“That was definitely my darkest moment. I just snapped. I was leaning against the wall in my kitchen, waiting for the ambulance to come, and I felt like, ‘This is as low as it gets for me.’ It was when I questioned everything. Like, ‘I can’t put a shiny face on this. There’s no bright side to this, no upside. This is just all regret and pain.'”
He began to doubt if he could find his optimism, his spark, again. Or if he was the right person to turn to for encouragement in perseverance. “Parkinson’s, my back, my arm … it still didn’t add up to moving the needle on the misery index compared to what some people go through,” he continues. “I thought, ‘How can I tell these people, “Chin up. Look at the bright side. Things are going to be great”?’ “
While being confined to bed, watching re-reruns, alone with his thoughts, he found his way back. “Optimism is really rooted in gratitude,” he says. “Optimism is sustainable when you keep coming back to gratitude, and what follows from that is acceptance. 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.”
He took the hit, but he has continued to find news ways to thrive. “My life now is quiet, and I’m actually having a really good time,” Fox says. “People don’t believe me, but I love life. I love being with my family. I love being with Tracy. I love that I don’t do a lot of useless stuff that I used to do, because I don’t have the energy or the time. I’m grateful that I went through a crucible there in my late 50s. I figured some of this crap out finally, and it didn’t haunt me into my 70s and 80s.” May we all find that same clarity.
Michael J. Fox will be lending his voice to the animated film Back Home Again,﻿ inspired by the community resiliency after one of the largest wildfire evacuations in Canadian history impacted the lives of more than 80,000 residents. Told through the eyes of the woodland creatures that inhabit the land of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo, Back Home Again has an all-star voice cast, that aims to build mental health awareness and spark conversations in communities across Canada and around the world.
Jeremy Renner, Martin Short, Kim Basinger, Eugene Levy, Norm MacDonald, Catherine O’Hara, Howie Mandel, Lorne Cardinal, Gordon Pinsent, Mena Suvari, Bill Burr, Tom Green, Tantoo Cardinal, Marlon Wayans, Harland Williams, Sherri Shepherd, Scott Thompson, and Ed Asner have joined together to tell the tale. A release date has not been set. This news originates from
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