- Michael J. Fox is an actor known for his work on Back to the Future, however, his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis has become a more prominent topic for the star in recent years.
- The actor was diagnosed with the disease over 30 years ago in 1991, however, he did not tell the public until 1998.
- Michael is set to release a tell-all documentary titled, Still, on his life and battle with Parkinson’s via Apple TV+ on May 12, 2023.
- Michael opened up about his battle with Parkinson’s in an interview on ‘CBS Sunday Morning.’
Back to the Future star Michael J. Fox, 61, has been a household name for decades. The longtime Hollywood heartthrob has gone on to win the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2023 Academy Awards, five Emmy Awards, and numerous other accolades. Despite being a successful actor, the 61-year-old has also dedicated his life to Parkinson’s disease research after being diagnosed over three decades ago. Michael founded The Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000 and continues to advocate for those with the disease today.
Most recently, the proud father-of-four announced his latest movie, Still, which is a documentary about his life and living with his condition. Michael opened up about his recent experiences with the disease and how he’s been “thinking about the mortality of it” in a CBS Sunday Morning interview, focusing on the documentary. Here’s everything to know about his chronic disease, how he’s doing today, and more.
Michael J. Fox Diagnosed With Parkinson’s Disease
Michael was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991, according to his organization’s website. It would not be until 1998 that the Oscar-winner would be ready to announce his diagnosis to the world. He was only 29 years old at the time, meaning he has now been living with Parkinson’s for over half of his life. Since he revealed to the world that he had the condition, he has been very public about his advocacy work against the disease, including starting The Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000.
In 2022, Michael opened up about the time he told his wife, Tracy Pollan, 62, about his diagnosis during an interview with CBS Sunday Mornings. “We were just married when I was diagnosed,” he explained at the time. “We’ve been married for 32 years, I’ve been diagnosed for 30 years. Very early in the marriage she got this dumped on.” He noted that the “last time” they cried about his diagnosis was the first time he told her over three decades ago. Since them, they’ve welcomed four kids: Sam Michael, 33, Schuyler Frances, 28, Aquinnah Kathleen, 28, and Esmé Annabelle, 21.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that can cause “unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination,” per the National Institute on Aging. The condition progresses slowly and can often make it difficult for a person to speak and walk. The same organization notes that although it is unknown why, often times Parkinson’s effects for men than women. Other symptoms of the disease include “behavioral changes, sleep problems, depression, memory difficulties, and fatigue.”
A diagnosis is typically achieved by a neurological examination, as no blood or lab tests can diagnose non-genetic cases of Parkinson’s. There are medications used to treat the condition, however, there is no known cure for the condition. Other alternatives to medicine include surgery and therapies.
How Long Has Michael J. Fox Been Sick?
As previously mentioned, Michael has been battling Parkinson’s since he was 29 years old. He recently was awarded with the the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2023 13th Governors Awards. During his acceptance speech (watch here), Michael shed light on his disease and expressed gratitude for those battling the same condition.
“I’m so grateful to all of these people and thousands more who will make this world without Parkinson’s a reality. I’m not sure I communicate it well, but it is humbling in the deepest way to stand here and accept your kindness and admiration, when truly the effort is being driven by others so deserving of this attention,” he said at the time. “I’m grateful to them and to you because my optimism is fueled by my gratitude. And with gratitude, optimism is sustainable.”
How Is Michael J. Fox Doing Today?
Michael recently shared an update on his health with Stat News on Apr. 12, 2023. “It’s been a terrible year,” he told the outlet, before adding that he’s “feeling better”, after new research funded by his foundation has brought celebratory news. The news that could turn things around for many was published in The Lancet Neurology, found that earlier intervention with Parkinson’s can now take place as a result of “examining spinal fluid from living patients,” per PEOPLE.
“This is the thing,” Michael said to Stat News earlier this month. “This is the big reward. This is the big trophy.” With the new science, one could possibly discover the condition many years sooner “It’s all changed. It can be known and treated early on. It’s huge,” he quipped. And in Oct. 2022, Michael told PEOPLE that he also suffered numerous broken bones amid his disease. “Just now I’m coming through where the last of my injuries are healing up; my arm is feeling good. Life is interesting. It deals you these things,” he recalled at the time. “It got worse,” he continued. “I broke my cheek, then my hand, then my shoulder, had a replacement shoulder put in and broke my [right] arm, then I broke my elbow. I’m 61 years old, and I’m feeling it a little bit more.”
In addition to the new science, Michael is set to release his documentary, Still, on May 12, 2023. “Heavy. A Michael J. Fox movie. #Still premieres May 12 on @appletv apple.co/stillfilm,” he captioned the official trailer, via Instagram on Apr. 6. Not only will fans get a close glimpse at the star throughout his impressive career, but they will also learn intimate details about his Parkinson’s disease. “To deny that part of me that wants to continue to go on and do things is to quit,” he said. “I’m a tough son of a b****.”
Michael opened up about how he’s feeling now in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, which aired on April 30, 2023. “You don’t die from Parkinson’s. You die with Parkinson’s. So I’ve been thinking about the mortality of it,” he said. “I’m not gonna be 80. I’m not gonna be 80.”
While speaking about the condition, Michael told CBS that “everyday it gets tougher,” while explaining how his condition has progressed. He explained that the disease has led him to break different bones and other health problems. “I had spinal surgery. I had a tumor on my spine. It was benign, but it messed up my walking,” he said. “I broke this arm. I broke this arm. I broke this elbow. I broke my face. I broke my hand from falling, which is a big killer with Parkinson’s.”