Michael J Fox On How Accepting Parkinsons Diagnosis Changed His Perspective
TV and film aside, Fox has regained his optimism and literally takes life one step at a time due to his condition.
“You have to plant your heel and shift your hips and transfer weight. I mean, all this mechanical biokinetics you have to go through to just go get a cup of coffee across the room,” he said of his life now. “But if every time, you risk falling, every step is precious.”
He shared that constantly being asked how he’s doing can get a little tiresome, but he hasn’t let it dampen his outlook on life.
“Sometimes I want to go, like, ‘Really? You wanna know? Pull up a chair. I’ll give you 45 minutes of it,”’ he said. “If you want the short answer, I’m feeling great.”
“Optimism is a choice,” he added. “But in a way, it isn’t. There’s no other choice. I don’t think there’s any other viable choice than to hope for the best and work toward it.”
Freddie Roach: Boxing Trainer With Parkinson’s
Frederick “Freddie” Roach is a boxing trainer and former professional boxer. Bryant Gumbel included his story in the HBO series Real Sports, detailing Roach’s efforts to control his Parkinson’s disease with medication and continued work as a trainer. Roach, who began to show Parkinsons symptoms over 20 years ago, trains world-famous boxers at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, which he owns. His client list has included the likes of Amir Khan, Manny Pacquiao, Mark Wahlberg, and Georges St. Pierre.
But having Parkinson’s hasn’t dimmed his commitment to boxing, even as it’s caused his speech to slur and his left arm to shake. “I’m in the gym every day it’s part of life. Instead of taking a vacation, I like what I do. My vacations are right here,” Roach said in a 2015 CBS interview.
Muhammad Ali: A Fighter For Parkinson’s Awareness
The beloved boxer Muhammad Ali coped with shaking hands and mobility challenges long before he retired from the sport in 1981. In 1984, doctors diagnosed Ali with Parkinson’s disease. Ali, the philanthropist Jimmy Walker, and Abraham Lieberman, MD, established the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center for movement disorders, a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. It serves as a resource center for Parkinson’s and other movement disorders, including Huntington’s disease and essential tremor, for both patients and their families.
Ali was long associated with the annual gala fundraising event for Barrow Neurological Institute, Celebrity Fight Night, where he was the featured guest. Awareness-building runs in the family: His daughter Rasheda Ali wrote a book for children about Parkinson’s disease, I’ll Hold Your Hand so You Won’t Fall: A Child’s Guide to Parkinson’s Disease.
Muhammad Ali died in June 2016 at age 74.
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Alan Alda: Taking Action Keeping Active
The award-winning M*A*S*H actor broke the news of his Parkinsons diagnosis during an appearance on the CBS This Morning TV news show in July 2018 and hes found that exercise helps him stay positive. You can hold back the progress if you do a lot of specific exercises, so I do a lot of crazy things, he told Today in 2019. For this actor, these crazy things reportedly include boxing, juggling, tennis, swimming, marching, and biking.
Confirming the news of his diagnosis on Twitter, Alda remained optimistic. I decided to let people know I have Parkinsons to encourage others to take action, he wrote. My life is full. I act, I give talks, I do my podcast, which I love. If you get a diagnosis, keep moving!
How Long Can A Person Live With Parkinsons Disease
The first thing to understand when seeking an estimate regarding life expectancy for any patient is that the answer is never definite. Each person is different and there is no formula for determining exactly how quickly a chronic disease will progress, how seriously it will affect the body, or whether additional complications may develop along the way.
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Ben Petrick: The Major League With Parkinson’s
Ben Petrick dreamed of a stellar baseball career as a catcher with the Colorado Rockies. He played in 240 Major League games, the majority of which came after Parkinson’s disease struck him at age 22 in 2000. He retired from baseball in 2004.
He’s since authored Forty Thousand to One, a book whose title in part references the 40,000 Americans diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease every year. The book also recounts his experiences in Major League Baseball while coping with Parkinson’s disease. According to an ESPN interview, Petrick’s father was also diagnosed with the condition but maintains a positive attitude, saying that although he has Parkinson’s, Parkinson’s doesn’t have him.
Neil Diamond: Stepping Away From Touring Because Of Parkinsons
Singer Neil Diamond announced on January 22, 2018, that he was retiring from touring because of a recent Parkinsons diagnosis. The news came during his 50th anniversary tour, as Diamond announced he would have to cancel upcoming concert dates in Australia and New Zealand. In a statement on his official website, he said, It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring. I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years.
Diamond reassured fans that he would continue writing and recording music, but he would not perform in front of live audiences in the future. His hits over the years have included Girl, Youll Be a Woman Soon, Sweet Caroline, Cracklin Rosie, Song Sung Blue, and Red, Red Wine.
Diamond was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Grammy Awards.
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Linda Ronstadt Ozzy Osbourne And Muhammad Ali Are Just Some Of The Well
Parkinsons disease is a neurodegenerative condition caused by the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain, which leads to various neurological and mobility-related symptoms. The Parkinsons Foundation estimates the number of people living with Parkinsons at 1 million in the United States alone, with over 10 million cases worldwide.
In January 2020, Ozzy Osbourne became the latest public figure to announce a Parkinsons diagnosis, helping to raise the profile of this little-understood neurological condition. Read on to learn more about how other celebrities living with Parkinsons disease have managed their condition and the work theyve done to raise awareness.
Brian Grant: Staying Positive With Parkinson’s
Brian Grant spent 12 seasons as a National Basketball Association player, playing for the Sacramento Kings, the Portland Trail Blazers, the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Phoenix Suns. As an NBA player, he was known for his positive team commitment as well as his work with disadvantaged children. According to an interview with ESPN, he was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease in January 2009, following his retirement from professional basketball. He went on to found the Brian Grant Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness and inspiring those living with Parkinson’s disease to include exercise as medicine.
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Michael J Fox: Parkinson’s Disease
TV and film star Michael J. Fox, known for starring in iconic movies such as “Back to the Future,” was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991, when he was 30 years old. Fox waited seven years before going public with his diagnosis. Although he admits to having bad days, he no longer looks at living with Parkinson’s as a battle or a fight, he told Parade magazine in 2012. Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that affects a person’s ability to walk and move. It arises when the neurons in the brain that produce a chemical called dopamine, which helps to control body movements, begin to break down and die. Symptoms include shaking, problems with balance, difficulty swallowing, difficulty making facial expressions , and muscle aches and pains. The condition is more common in people over 50. About 50,000 to 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s are diagnosed each year in the U.S., according to the National Parkinson Foundation.
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Michael J Fox Recalls Watching Back To The Future With Princess Diana
“I was underneath the phone, against the kitchen wall, on the kitchen floor alone with a broken arm, waiting for the ambulance to show up,” he said on Sunday TODAY. “I couldn’t believe the amount of fury I had toward myself for being so careless to do this, and to let down my surgeons.
“I had been so stubborn about being independent, and my family, who’d been so patient during all this. And I couldn’t put a shiny face on it. I couldn’t make lemonade out of this. In fact, I was out of the lemonade business. I just kind of felt more sorry for myself, and I’d never done that before. And I questioned my optimism.”
Fittingly for a man with five Emmy Awards, watching television helped restore his positive outlook on life. He binge-watched old Westerns from the ’50s and ’60s while recovering from his broken arm.
“I kind of realized that this happened before I was born, these shows,” he told Willie. “I’m part of that continuum. I’ll be survived by my reruns. That gave me a little bit of a dash of immortality.
“All these things were connected. And they all pointed me toward how grateful I was for my interaction with my kids. They’re all smarter than me, and all better looking than me, they’re all taller than me. And so I look up to them.”
Fox Remains Optimistic That There Will Be A Cure
From the start, his attitude about his diagnosis was clear and became his trademark: optimism mixed with reality.
That fall, he went back to Spin City, but eventually left after two more seasons. One of the reasons I left Spin City was that I felt my face hardening, he told theNew York Times Magazine. My movements were constricted. If you watch episodes from the last couple of seasons, youll see I would anchor myself against a desk or the wall. Eventually, it was too burdensome.
Knowing his limits and knowing where to channel his energy became his priority. By the end of that year, he launched the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and poured all his efforts into its work.
Despite returning to acting and writing three best-selling books , his true purpose now remains on his foundation. I still believe in a cure, he told The New York Times Magazine.
Fox has been known to pick up a guitar at his foundations annual benefit and reprise the iconic Back to the FutureJohnny B. Goode scene with Coldplays Chris Martin even joining him in 2013. After all, Fox is a true rockstar.
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Michael J Fox Reflects On Life With Parkinson’s In ‘no Time Like The Future’
The Family Ties star was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease in 1991. He says that if he doesn’t know if he can do something, he fakes it a strategy that works 80 percent of the time.
TERRY GROSS, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. My guest, Michael J. Fox, has written a new memoir that’s about his recent life years after he was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease back in 1991 when he was 29. Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disorder which results in tremors, muscle spasms, balance and coordination problems, diminishment of movement and can also affect mood, sleep and lead to fatigue. Michael J. Fox became famous in his 20s, before Parkinson’s, for his role on the hit sitcom “Family Ties” as a young conservative who went in the opposite direction of his liberal parents and idolized President Reagan.
Michael J. Fox, welcome to FRESH AIR. Congratulations on your book. It’s a pleasure to have you back on the show.
MICHAEL J FOX: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
GROSS: The pandemic started just in time for you to write your epilogue. And you write that now everyone is experiencing something you’ve experienced, which is protecting other people from yourself. Can you explain how that applies to you?
GROSS: I – so I think also, like, there’s a sense of vulnerability that you’ve probably felt that everybody is feeling now.
GROSS: Right. You know, what are the limitations you face now physically?
GROSS: What about speech?
Celebrities Who’ve Been Diagnosed With Parkinson’s Disease
After getting a life-changing Parkinsons disease diagnosis, it can be comforting to find out who else has the same diagnosis. While its important to have a friend, family member or acquaintance to talk to in person who knows exactly what youre going through. Knowing one of your favorite public figures is experiencing similar symptoms as you can also help you feel less alone. These famous folks have spoken out about their condition, bringing awareness and visibility to conditions the general population might not know much about, if anything at all.
Parkinsons disease is a chronic, progressive neurological condition caused by the degeneration of nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls movement. As a result, the nerve cells cannot produce dopamine, a chemical that helps coordinate movement. Hallmark symptoms include shaking in limbs when the limbs are at rest slowness of movement, where you cannot move your body as fast as you would like and rigidity, or stiffness in the body. Parkinsons also causes a number of symptoms unrelated to movement, including digestive issues, loss of smell, chronic pain, depression and blood pressure issues.
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Alan Alda Reveals He Has Parkinson’s Disease
US actor Alan Alda, star of M*A*S*H and The West Wing, has revealed he has Parkinson’s disease.
The 82-year-old told the CBS This Morning show he was diagnosed three-and-a-half years ago but had only decided to speak about it now.
“The reason I want to talk about it in public is… I’ve had a full life since then,” he said.
“You still have things you can do,” he went on, revealing he was “taking boxing lessons three times a week.”
Parkinson’s is a progressive condition in which the brain becomes damaged. It can lead to tremors, difficulty moving, speech changes and eventually memory problems.
NEW: Actor just revealed he has Parkinson’s disease. The award-winning actor says he was diagnosed with the disease three and a half years ago.
Alda is best known for playing Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce in the TV series M*A*S*H from 1972 to 1983.
He went on to play presidential candidate Arnold Vinick in The West Wing and was Oscar nominated in 2005 for The Aviator.
Alda said he had noticed during recent interviews to promote his new podcast that he “could see thumb twitch in some shots”.
“I thought, it’s probably only a matter of time before somebody does a story about this from a sad point of view but that’s not where I am,” he continued.
Alda said he had gone to his doctor to ask for a scan because he suspected he might have the disease.
Stooping Or Hunching Over
Are you not standing up as straight as you used to? If you or your family or friends notice that you seem to be stooping, leaning or slouching when you stand, it could be a sign of Parkinson’s disease .
What is normal?If you have pain from an injury or if you are sick, it might cause you to stand crookedly. Also, a problem with your bones can make you hunch over.
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Maurice White: A Performer With Parkinson’s
One of the founding members of the band Earth, Wind & Fire, Maurice White noted the first symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in the 1980s while the band’s popularity was going strong. Although he was diagnosed in 1992 at age 50, he kept quiet about his disease for eight years. In a 2000 interview with Rolling Stone, he discussed his diagnosis, saying, “I traveled with the band for five years with Parkinson’s. I was treating it with medication then, and I still have it under control. It’s not taking anything away from me.”
White died in 2016 at age 74.
Fox’s Career Was Thriving When He First Noticed Twitching In His Hand
For seven seasons from 1982 to 1989, Fox played Alex P. Keaton on the hit sitcom Family Ties, winning three Emmys for portraying a Republican with liberal parents who were former hippies. In the midst of his television success, he also found silver screen fame in the Back to the Future trilogy as Marty McFly from 1985 to 1990. Off-screen, he married Family Ties costar Tracy Pollan in 1988 and they had their first child in 1989.
Life was looking good, as he kept landing starring movie roles, one after the other. But while he was on the Gainesville, Florida set of Doc Hollywood in 1991, something felt off. He noticed a twitch in his left pinkie finger. A neurologist assured him that he had probably somehow injured his funny bone, as he explained to People.
But six months later, things were worse. His entire left hand was trembling and his shoulder was stiff and achy. He consulted another doctor and was told he had Parkinsons disease, which typically affects patients over the age of 60. He was just 30.
It was incomprehensible, he told People. The doctor said I would be able to function for years and years. But even talking in those terms was strange.
Michael J. Fox, 1991
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