Michael J Fox says Parkinson’s disease has changed his life “in so many positive ways”

The actor is a prominent advocate for the condition.

Michael J Fox, renowned actor known for his impressive career in film and television, is equally celebrated for his unwavering determination and activism in the fight against Parkinson’s disease, a condition that significantly altered the trajectory of his life.

Michael was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991 but did not reveal the diagnosis until 1998.

However now, in 2023, the Back to the Future actor happily talks about Parkinson’s in the hopes of shedding more light on the disease that currently affects approximately 219,000 Australians.

In a November 2023 interview with Town & Country, Michael opened up about the difficulties he faces – for instance, just to speak clearly, Michael needs to regularly take medication that combats paralysis of facial muscles – but also how he tries not to think of his condition as a negative thing.

“I’ve said Parkinson’s is a gift. It’s the gift that keeps on taking, but it has changed my life in so many positive ways.”

Michael also explained why in 2000 he founded the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, which aims to cure Parkinson’s with “an aggressively funded research agenda.”

“Early on someone from a foundation gave me their pitch as to why I should come on [as an ambassador],” he said.

“But then they said the most unusual thing. They said, ‘But if you don’t help us, don’t help them,’ pointing to another foundation. I got so mad. I said, ‘I’ve got to get in here and get this straightened out.’”

And straighten it out he did. Michael’s foundation has in the last 23 years been responsible for funding investigations that have resulted in more than 20 early-stage therapeutic programs, building the most robust dataset and biosample library in the history of Parkinson’s research, as well as many, many other impressive feats.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 26:   Actor Michael J. Fox (R) and Tracy Pollan attend the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 26, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images)

The Family Ties actor isn’t the only one happy to candidly speak about and advocate for Parkinson’s though. Michael’s wife and former co-star Tracey Pollan recently shared that it’s okay for those battling a serious illness to not to be optimistic 100 per cent of the time.

Speaking to Page Six at the ‘A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to Cure Parkinson’s’ annual gala on November 11, 2023, Tracey said, “I don’t think you need to feel the pressure be optimistic all the time…because it’s hard. Life is hard.”

Tracey added that the key is to “just put one foot in front of the other and lean on family and friends for support.”

What stage of Parkinson’s is Michael J Fox in?

Michael J Fox’s exact stage of Parkinson’s disease has, understandably, not been publicly disclosed. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition, and its stages can vary from person to person.

Fox was initially diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease, which typically starts before the age of 50.

How old was Michael J Fox when diagnosed with Parkinson’s?

Michael was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was just 29 years old. This diagnosis came as a shock to him and his family, as Parkinson’s is more commonly associated with older age.

However, as aforementioned, his early-onset Parkinson’s diagnosis led him to become a prominent advocate for research and awareness of the condition.

How did Michael J Fox realise he had Parkinson’s?

In previous interviews, Michael has revealed that he first noticed tremors, stiffness, and difficulties with coordination, but initially attributed these symptoms to the stresses of his demanding acting career.

As the symptoms persisted and became more pronounced though, Michael sought medical advice.

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