Actor Michael J. Fox has shown brutal honesty about his mortality and his thirty-year-long battle with Parkinson’s disease just after his foundation published a key breakthrough to help diagnose and treat the neurodegenerative disease.
Speaking to CBS Sunday Mornings, Fox, 61, describes Parkinson’s as “the gift that keeps on taking, but it’s a gift”.
“I’m not gonna be 80,” the Back To The Future star said.
“You don’t die from Parkinson’s, you die with Parkinson’s. So I’ve been thinking about the mortality of it.”
Meanwhile, earlier this month, The Michael J. Fox Foundation released breaking news that their researchers had discovered a new tool that can help detect a key pathology of the disease to improve care and treatments and prevent the full development of symptoms in newly diagnosed patients.
The tool, called the α-synuclein seeding amplification assay (αSyn-SAA), can detect pathology in spinal fluid in people diagnosed with Parkinson’s and those who show clinical symptoms of the disease or are at a high risk of developing it. The assay can confirm the presence of abnormal alpha-synuclein which is detected in most people with Parkinson’s.
“In five years, we’ll be able to tell if they have [Parkinson’s], we’ll be able to tell if they’re ever going to get it and we’ll know how to treat it,” Fox explained.
After living with Parkinson’s for over thirty years, Fox has taken many falls, injuries and other conditions as a result of uncontrollable movements, stiffening and imbalanced coordination often caused by Parkinson’s.
He revealed he had broken many bones, including his face, and had a benign tumour removed from his spine which further impaired his ability to walk.
“I’m not gonna lie. It’s gettin’ hard, it’s gettin’ harder. It’s gettin’ tougher. Every day it’s tougher,” he said.
“It’s falling and aspirating food and getting pneumonia. All these subtle ways that get you.”
Fox has had Parkinson’s since he was 29, causing him to eventually retired from acting in 2020 as his symptoms worsened. But he doesn’t let it get him down – proving he still has a sense of humour about his condition while plugging his new documentary Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie.
“With gratitude, optimism is sustainable,” he explained.