Michael J. Fox considers himself lucky despite the debilitating Parkinson’s disease he has suffered from for three decades. He prefers to show integrity and see the positive part of what he has experienced. Despite the fact that this disease has represented a turning point in his physical state of health, he admits that he is indifferent not having a cure. In a recent interview for the American magazine AARP, the actor of Return to the future, who turned 60 last June, has insisted that he is “happy” with the journey he has had to travel. “In my mind there is not a single morbid thought. I am not afraid of death ”, he assured during the talk. What affects him the most is having put aside his dream profession: cinema. “As I wrote in my last book, now I’m out of business,” he said after announcing a year ago that he was leaving the spotlight for the second time to publish his memoirs, No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality (“There is no time like the future: an optimist considers mortality”).
It was this retreat that has helped the actor to see his situation from another perspective. “I try to be very direct with the people who talk about my treatment. When they ask me if I think they will cure my Parkinson’s, I tell them: ‘I am already 60 years old and science is difficult. So no”. Fox has learned to accept his reality and the premise that Parkinson’s “does not lead” his life, but “is part of it.”
He admits, however, that this was not always the case. For a season he was plunged into a darkness from which he could only emerge after the death of his father-in-law. “I had a revelation. He always expressed gratitude, acceptance and trust ”, he declared, after assuring that he has managed to integrate that determination into his own experience. “He identified things for which he was grateful and saw how other people responded to difficulties with that gratitude. I came to the conclusion that being grateful for what you have makes optimism sustainable “, he explained, appealing to all those who are still immersed in the sadness that life’s difficulties produce:” If you think you have nothing for to be thankful, keep looking. Because optimism is not something you just get. You can’t wait for things to be great. You have to behave in a way that is what you promote ”.
The performer of movies like Family entanglements and Christmas story has revealed that he regrets having turned down some papers because of his illness. “There came a point where I couldn’t trust my ability to speak, which meant that I could no longer act comfortably. For this reason, last year I gave up acting ”, he confessed. The last role he accepted was thanks to the series The Good Wife, where he played the role of a lawyer who suffered from Parkinson’s-like symptoms and used them to manipulate the jury. “It was absurd and rude, I loved the idea when they offered it to me,” he revealed.
The actor has now given himself completely to his work at the head of the foundation that bears his name, an NGO that he created in 2000 with the main purpose of seeking a cure against the disease. Since its foundation, they have managed to donate 650 million dollars to research (more than 585 million euros) and participate in the improvement of some drugs. “When I received my diagnosis, I spent seven years keeping the secret, not telling anyone and without learning about the disease. Later I realized that other people were isolated and did not have a central unifying force to act in their defense ”, he stated regarding the moment in which he decided to create the organization. “So now, in addition to promoting science through the foundation, I am a motivator and someone who tries to demystify and normalize Parkinson’s, eliminate shame and the feeling that it should be hidden,” he concluded.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.