From Struggle to Strength: Michael J. Fox’s 30-Year Parkinson’s Battle

Earlier this year, the highly anticipated documentary chronicling the life of the beloved actor, Michael J. Fox, made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City. Produced by the Oscar-winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, the film recounts the journey of the actor who became a household name in the 80s through iconic roles in movies like Back to the Future and the TV series Family Ties.

A special screening of the film also took place at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in Austin, Texas, where Michael attended with his wife Tracy Pollen. During the Q&A session, he candidly shared his experience living with Parkinson’s disease, a diagnosis he received at the young age of 29.

This diagnosis came shortly after Michael and Tracy got married and welcomed their first child. Tracy has been a steadfast source of support for her husband throughout this challenging journey. Together, they are dedicated to raising funds for Parkinson’s disease research and finding a cure. In 1998, Michael made his condition public and gradually transitioned away from acting as his health declined.

Accepting the reality of his condition took time for Michael, but he ultimately decided to make the most of his life despite the obstacles presented by the disease.

“Parkinson’s is a difficult challenge, but I’m grateful for the life I have,” expressed the actor. “Self-pity doesn’t serve any purpose. There are lessons to be learned, so let’s focus on that and move forward.”

“My fans have given me so much. I wanted to give back to those who have supported me. It meant a lot to hear from all of you.”

In the past, the star of Spin City spoke about his choice to continue making movies after the diagnosis, stating, “I have no regrets. You do what you have to do, but you also have to take care of yourself. That’s when I decided to step back.”

Together with his wife, Michael founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which is committed to funding research for Parkinson’s disease. Today, the organization stands as the largest non-profit funder of Parkinson’s research worldwide. His dedication to helping those affected by the disease earned him a spot on Time Magazine’s 2007 list of 100 individuals “whose influence, talent, or ethical example is changing the world.”

While he continued to act after his diagnosis, his focus shifted towards lending his voice to films like Stuart Little and Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

The actor has penned four books: Lucky Man: A Memoir (2002), Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist (2009), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned (2010), and his fourth, No Time Like the Future, released on November 17, 2021.

Recently, he candidly shared that despite his efforts to maintain a positive outlook on his disease, things have become more challenging.

“I won’t sugarcoat it. It’s getting tough, really tough. Every day is a battle. But, that’s just the way it is. You know, who do I talk to about that?”

He also discussed a spinal cord surgery he had to undergo.

“I broke this arm, and I broke this arm, I broke this elbow. I broke my face. I broke my hand,” he disclosed.

“You don’t succumb to Parkinson’s. You live with it,” Michael concluded. “I’ve been contemplating the mortality of it. … I won’t reach 80. I won’t.”

“The pain is intense. Each tremor feels like an earthquake,” the actor shared.

“It’s not just the pain from the movement, but from the absence of movement. When you freeze, that lack of motion becomes charged with energy, turning into this burning, impending sensation that never materializes.

“I’m not looking for sympathy. I’ve broken my hand, my elbow, my humerus, my other humerus, my shoulder, my face, and some other stuff too. And all of that is amplified by the electricity of the tremors. So yes, it hurts a lot. But what you learn is that nobody cares. It’s just life. You tough it out and you move forward. And maybe there’s a story to tell in it. But that’s it. There’s no ticket to a refund window.”

Despite everything he’s facing, he assured his fans that he’s not going anywhere.

“The depression isn’t so deep that I’d harm myself… it always circles back to a place where I think, ‘There’s more to celebrate in my life than there is to mourn.’ The pain speaks for itself. You either bear it or you don’t. And I’m not going anywhere.”

Michael J. Fox is an extraordinary actor and individual, and we send him our best wishes for the years ahead. Please share this article with your family and friends on Facebook.

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