When Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he was just 29 years old and was at the peak of his acting career. He disclosed his condition with the public in 1998 and semi-retired from acting two years later as his health worsened. It took young Michael a lot of time to accept the reality, but he finally decided to make the best out of his life despite the struggles the disease forced him to face.
Along with his wife, Michael established the Michael J. Fox Foundation whose goal is finding cure for Parkinson’s disease through funded research. The organization is currently the largest non-profit funder of Parkinson’s disease research in the world. His dedication to helping patients with the disease he suffers from himself placed him on the 2007 Time Magazine’s list of 100 people “whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world.”
Although he continued acting after the diagnosis, his work was mainly focused on lending his voice in films like Stuart Little and Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
The actor has written 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.
He recently revealed that his short term memory is shot and he has difficulties remembering the lines.
A few years ago, he experienced yet another health scare when he started falling down for no reason and it appeared he had a problem with his spinal cord and he needed to do something about it.
“I was told it was benign but if it stayed static I would have diminished feeling in my legs and difficulty moving. Then all of a sudden I started falling – a lot. It was getting ridiculous. I was trying to parse what was Parkinson’s and what was the spinal thing. But it came to the point where it was probably necessary to have surgery,” he said as per The New York Times.
Sadly, his problems were far from over. “I did it all,” he said, “and eventually people asked me to do some acting. Last August I was supposed to go to work. I woke up, walked into the kitchen to get breakfast, misstepped and I went down. I fractured the hell out of my arm and I ended up getting 19 pins and a plate. It was such a blow.”
The actor has never let his optimism leave his life. Speaking to AARP he said, “If you can find something to be grateful for, then optimism is sustainable. At 60, I just feel like, in spite of this thing I carry every day, I love my life, I love my wife, I love my kids … Parkinson’s is just this thing that’s attached to my life. It isn’t the driver … I’m really lucky, and I try to spread that luck around.”
During a latest appearance in New York, Michael had troubles walking on stage due to his tremor but the fans kept cheering his name.
Sometimes, however, Michael does receive mean comments from internet trolls. Just recently, he was offended by an internet user and he decided to answer back, but as he wasn’t certain as what to reply, he asked his son Sam, 33, for help. Sam told him to only write “SMH.” When Michael asked what that meant, Sam told him to trust him.
Soon after, the actor received a reply from the mean commenter which read, “That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever read in my life. You’re the king of the internet. I apologize for anything I said to you.”
It was then that Sam explained to Michael that the acronym stood for “shaking my head.”
Michael’s children, as well as his loving wife of over 30 years, always have his back, and that makes him a hell of a lucky man.
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Love and Peace