Michael J Fox says Parkinson’s battle is 'getting tougher' every day: 'I'm not going to be 80'
"You don’t die from Parkinson’s; you die with Parkinson’s," said the Back to the Future actor, who was diagnosed with the disease in 1991 at age 29.
Michael J Fox says his Parkinson’s battle is “getting tougher” by the day.
The Back to the Future actor, 61, has battled the disease for more than 30 years and added even though his struggle with it is increasing, he remains optimistic that new research will relieve future sufferers’ pain.
In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning's Jane Pauley, Fox said his degenerative illness is a “gift that keeps on taking”: “It sucks — it’s getting tougher, it’s getting harder, every day you suffer, but that’s the way it is.”
Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991, a year after Back to the Future Part III was released. He retired from acting in 2020. He is the subject of a new Apple TV+ documentary feature, Still: A Michael J Fox Movie, which looks at his career and his Parkinson's battle.
Fox also revealed that he had undergone spinal surgery on a benign tumor and explained that the procedure affected his walking. As a result, he had fallen a few times, causing him to break both arms, a hand and facial bones.
"[Falling] is a big killer with Parkinson's," he said. "Falling and aspirating food and getting pneumonia — all these subtle ways that get you. You don’t die from Parkinson’s; you die with Parkinson’s. So I’ve been thinking of the mortality of it. I’m not going to be 80. I’m not going to 80.”
The Secret of My Success actor added that despite his fight with the illness’ symptoms — which include involuntary shaking, slow movement, and stiff and inflexible muscles — he has a “certain set of skills” that allow him to cope.
Fox, who has four children with wife Tracy Pollan, said: “I recognise how hard this is for people and recognise how hard it is for me, but I have a certain set of skills that allow me to deal with this stuff and I realise, with gratitude, optimism is sustainable.
“If you can find something to be grateful for then you find something to look forward to and you carry on.”
Fox founded the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000, which has raised more than US$1.75 billion (S$2.3 bil) for research funding.
He told Pauley the foundation's recently-published study that says researchers have discovered a biomarker for Parkinson’s “changes everything” for sufferers.
Fox added: “I know where we are right now. In five years, they will be able to tell if you have it, they will be able to tell if you’re ever going to get it and we’ll know how to treat it.”
Watch Fox's CBS Sunday Morning interview here: