Michael J. Fox, 61, shared how he has maintained “optimism” through his struggles with Parkinson’s Disease, having battled the neurological disorder since he was 29 years old.
In a recent interview with CBS News, he opened up about both the blessings and curses that suffering from Parkinson’s has brought onto his life.
“I’m not gonna lie. It’s getting harder. Every day it’s tougher,” the Back to the Future star confessed, noting that his disorder “is the gift that keeps on taking”.
The symptoms of having little control over his shaky body has resulted in a number of injuries, he said.
“[Falling] is a big killer with Parkinson’s,” he explained, citing times where he had broken his arms, hands, and even bones in his face. “It’s falling, and aspirating food and pneumonia – all these subtle ways that [it] gets you.”
Having needed surgery on his spine to remove a tumor – which was discovered to be benign – hindered his walking even further.
“You don’t die from Parkinson’s. You die with Parkinson’s,” he added. “I’m not gonna be 80.”
To his point, Parkinson’s cannot directly kill a person, rather, it can cause the body to be “more vulnerable to serious and life-threatening infections,” per the National Health Service (NHS).
But what was once thought to be nearly impossible, thanks to the constant advancement in research and treatments, Fox has survived for over 30 years with the disease. As a result, he has learned the value of gratitude and uses it to get through each day, especially the particularly hard ones.
“I recognize how hard this is for people, and I recognize how hard it is for me, but I have a certain set of skills that allow me to deal with this stuff,” he declared. “And I realize, with gratitude, optimism is sustainable. If you can find something to be grateful for, then you can find something to look forward to, and you carry on.”
Michael continued, “I love being with my family,” which consists of his wife of 35 years Tracy Pollan, and their four children, Sam, Aquinnah, Esme, and Schuyler. And when he’s not spending time with them, he’s advocating for Parkinson’s awareness and research, having founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation, a non-profit organization, in 2000, and aims to fund research to find a cure to the devastating disease.
Since their opening, the Michael J. Fox Foundation has raised over $1 billion, and they are continually following through with advancements in their studies to get them closer and closer to finding the yet-to-be-discovered cure.