Everyone was shocked upon hearing the news that Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In fact, the actor admitted that when he first heard about it, he was devastated. He did not take this news lightly.
He drowned himself in alcohol and sadness. He kept to himself for seven years. Soon, he realized the importance of helping others.
This is when he started to become one of the world’s most prominent Parkinson’s disease advocate. Most of the time, he spent it working to fund the research for a cure of the disease. His condition is under wraps, but he is still showing love and respect to those who are dealing with the disease.
During an interview, he said, “After I made my diagnosis public back in 1998, I began to realize that Parkinson’s gives you two things to reckon with. You deal with the condition, and you deal with people’s perception of the condition. It was easy for me to tune in to the way other people were looking into my eyes and seeing their own fear reflected back. I’d assure them that ‘I’m doing great’ – because I was. After a while, the disconnect between the way I felt and the dread people were projecting just seemed, you know, funny.”
After he was diagnosed with the disease, many people reached out to him to offer support. However, there was one phone call that changed it all. It stuck with him forever. He explained, “Muhammad Ali called me at home. And in this raspy, paper-thin voice, he said, ‘Aahhhhh… Michael, now that you’re in it, we’ll win this fight.’ What could I say?”
Instead of fearing the inevitable he decided to move forward. He started the Michael J. Fox Foundation. This helps others who are also diagnosed with Parkinson’s. This foundation proved to be successful in helping patients with financial and emotional support. The foundation also gives others the chance to help. The Michael J. Fox Foundation has raised $700 million for Parkinson’s research. This also helped spread the word in ways unimaginable.
He shared, “A funny thing happened. Doctors reached out to me. And I reached out to doctors. More important, the Parkinson’s community reached out to me, and I immediately felt better, just empowered, knowing there were people who understood what I was going through. It was also empowering for physicians, specialists and researchers I began meeting all over the country.”
Fox’s health is not perfect, but he shared that these days, it’s not too painful anymore. He explained, “My visible symptoms are distracting, but none of them hurt. The only real pain I get is in my feet, which sometimes shuffle and curl up in cramps when I’m sleeping – which is why I keep a very stiff pair of shoes on the floor next to my bed.”
Even up to this day, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. But his doctors were able to figure out a mix of drugs that works best for him. This made him feel better than he did when he was first diagnosed with the disease.
He did not let his condition stop him from continuously working in the entertainment industry. He also made sure that if given a chance, he shares his story about his own health, his Foundation, as well as his true feelings about the disease.