Michael J Fox talks openly about his struggle with Parkinson’s disease

Michael J Fox on the red carpet
Michael J Fox has been living with Parkinson’s disease for 22 years. Pic credit: ©

It’s been over two decades since Hollywood star Michael J Fox first went public with his Parkinson’s diagnosis, and he recently spoke out about living all that time with the illness.

The Back to the Future star is known for his good humor and optimism, but he’s admitted that there have been some really dark moments in recent times.

Luckily, for his fans, Fox hasn’t let the disease stop his acting career, and he’s had star performances in Spin City, Scrubs, and The Good Wife.

In 2013, NBC gave him his own show in The Michael J Fox Show, where he played a news anchor attempting to restart his career after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

More recently, he’s starred in Designated Survivor.

Fox  sat down with People Magazine this weekend, and sadly the Family Ties actor says he might not return to acting because his “short term memory is shot.”

Fox said he always had a talent for memorizing his lines but is now struggling with roles that require lots of speaking.

“I always had a real proficiency for lines and memorization. And I had some extreme situations where the last couple of jobs I did were actually really word-heavy parts. I struggled during both of them,” he lamented.

In the interview, Fox also revealed that the darkest moment of his life came in 2018 when he was diagnosed with a non-cancerous tumor on his back.

The tumor was growing rapidly and caused him a lot of pain, so the doctors decided to operate and remove it.

The operation was successful, and Fox felt like he was recovering well after relearning how to walk again; however, on the morning of a Spike Lee film shoot, he fell in his New York apartment and broke his arm.

Fox detailed how he reached rock bottom as he waited for an ambulance.

He said: “I just snapped. I was leaning against the wall in my kitchen, waiting for the ambulance to come, and I felt like, ‘This is as low as it gets for me.’”

“It was when I questioned everything. Like, ‘I can’t put a shiny face on this. There’s no bright side to this, no upside. This is just all regret and pain,'” he added.

Thankfully, the actor says his optimism slowly returned as he recuperated in bed over the following weeks. He said his mood was greatly helped by watching re-runs of 1970s game shows.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

According to the CDC, Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that “happens when nerve cells in the brain don’t produce enough of a brain chemical called dopamine.”

They also say it is sometimes genetic but that exposure to chemicals in the environment is likely the main cause.

Early symptoms include tremors, rigidity, and difficulty walking, with cognitive decline occurring in the later stages. There is no cure for the illness, but the symptoms can be slowed.

Epidemiologic studies have found that individuals who drink coffee or smoke cigarettes are less likely to develop the illness; however, the CDC does not recommend taking up either vice.

What is Michael J Fox’s net worth?

We all hope that Michael will be able to return to acting; however, if the worst-case scenario does happen and he’s unable to continue, it seems that the Hollywood star will at least be financially comfortable.

As he approaches his 60th birthday next year, the actor whose career spans five decades is reportedly worth approximately $65 million. Fox gained most of his fame and wealth through his appearances on the sitcom Family Ties and hit movie Back to the Future.

In 1985, Fox was working on both Family Ties and Back to the Future simultaneously, meaning he was working up to 16-18 hours a day.

Arguably, it was worth it as the time travel movie pulled in a whopping $380 million on its release and was followed by two very successful sequels.

Michael J Fox isn’t the only celebrity to have Parkinson’s disease and also isn’t the only one to openly discuss his travails in living with the illness.

In March, Scottish comedian Billy Connolly sadly informed his fans that he’s “done with stand-up” because his cognitive decline has now become too serious.

And two months earlier, Ozzy Osborne spoke about his battle with the disease in an interview on Good Morning America.

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