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Michael J. Fox maintains his optimism despite each day 'getting harder' with Parkinson's disease

Fox, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1991 at the age of 29, shared that the degenerative disorder "is the gift that keeps on taking."

Michael J. Fox maintains his optimism despite each day 'getting harder' with Parkinson's disease
Cover Image Source: Michael J. Fox speaks during a "Back To The Future Reunion" panel at New York Comic Con on October 08, 2022 in New York City - Getty Images/Mike Coppola

Michael J. Fox, the Canadian-American activist and actor, is inspiring people by remaining hopeful as he continues to battle Parkinson's disease. In a recent interview with Jane Pauley on CBS Sunday Morning, the 61-year-old actor shared how Parkinson's, an incurable degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, "is the gift that keeps on taking." Fox, an Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actor, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1991 at the age of 29, a year after "Back to the Future Part III" was released. “It sucks having Parkinson’s. It is getting tougher, it’s getting harder, every day you suffer, but that is the way it is,” Fox said before detailing the symptoms.

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AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 14: Michael J. Fox speaks at the Q+A for STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie at the 2023 SXSW Conference and Festivals at The Paramount Theater on March 14, 2023, in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for SXSW)
Image Source: Michael J. Fox speaks at the Q+A for STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie at the 2023 SXSW Conference on March 14, 2023, in Austin, Texas - Getty Images/Frazer Harrison

 

The National Institutes of Health defines the condition as a brain disorder that causes parts of the brain to become progressively damaged over time, resulting in shaking, stiffness and difficulty with balance and coordination. Symptoms usually worsen as time goes by. Fox added that he sustained injuries from falling, breaking bones in his face and other parts of his body and has a benign tumor on his spine. He said, “All these subtle ways that get you, you do not die from Parkinson’s, you die with the condition. I’m not going to be 80. I won’t be 80.” After living with the disease for almost 30 years,  Fox expressed that he is focused on gratitude because of his journey with Parkinson's over time.



 

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"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 this stuff," Fox said. "And I realize, with gratitude, optimism is sustainable. If you can find something to be grateful for, then you can find something to look forward to, and you carry on." As reported by The Guardian, Fox founded the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000, raising more than $1.75 billion for research funding. In a study published in April, sponsored by the foundation, researchers have discovered a biomarker for Parkinson’s by examining spinal fluid from living patients.



 

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Fox said, “This changes everything. I know where we are right now. In five years, they will be able to tell if you have it, they will be able to tell if you are ever going to get it and we will know how to treat it.” His fans will also get an exclusive sneak peek into his health journey in his upcoming documentary, "Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie," premiering on May 12, 2023, on Apple TV+. The film, directed by Academy Award winner Davis Guggenheim, shows Fox's experience with the disease and how he continues to work and stay positive despite the diagnosis. Per a logline for the documentary, the film "incorporates documentary, archival and scripted elements, recounting Fox's extraordinary story in his own words."



 

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In March, after the screening of the documentary at South by Southwest (SXSW), Fox described what life has been like since he went public with his diagnosis in 1998, according to PEOPLE. "I didn't have a choice," he said. "This is it. I have to give everything I have and it's not lip service. I show up and do the best I can. Pity is a benign form of abuse. I can feel sorry for myself, but I don't have time for that. There is stuff to be learned from this, so let's do that and move on." He also noted that this documentary is more about giving back to his fans, instead of his life story. "My fans have basically given me my life," he explained. "I wanted to give these people who have done so much for me my time and gratitude. It was great for me to hear from all of you."



 

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