When Michael J. Fox received the news that he had Parkinson’s disease he was devastated and he drowned himself in alcohol and sadness, keeping it to himself for seven years, but he soon realized the importance of helping others. This is when he set out to become of the world’s most prominent Parkinson’s disease advocate. Now, the majority of his time is spent working to fund research for a cure. And while his condition is under wraps, he is still showing love and respect for those who suffer from the disease.
“After I made my diagnosis public back in 1998, I began to realize that Parkinson’s gives you two things to reckon with,” Michael said in an interview. “You deal with the condition, and you deal with people’s perception of the condition. It was easy for me to tune in to the way other people were looking into my eyes and seeing their own fear reflected back. I’d assure them that ‘I’m doing great’ – because I was. After a while, the disconnect between the way I felt and the dread people were projecting just seemed, you know, funny.”
Instead of wallowing in the fears of others, he decided to move forward and start the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which aids others who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The foundation has proven successful in helping patients with finances and emotional support while also giving others a chance to help.
After his diagnosis, several people reached out to Fox to offer support, but there was one phone call that stuck with him forever.
“Muhammad Ali called me at home,” said Michael, who instantly felt lifted by Ali’s determination. “And in this raspy, paper-thin voice, he said, ‘Aahhhhh… Michael, now that you’re in it, we’ll win this fight.’ What could I say?”
So far, the Michael J. Fox Foundation has raised $700 million for Parkinson’s research and the word has spread in ways that were originally unimaginable.
“A funny thing happened. Doctors reached out to me. And I reached out to doctors. More important, the Parkinson’s community reached out to me, and I immediately felt better, just empowered, knowing there were people who understood what I was going through. It was also empowering for physicians, specialists and researchers I began meeting all over the country.”
While his own health isn’t perfect, Michael shared that it’s not too painful these days…
“My visible symptoms are distracting, but none of them hurt. The only real pain I get is in my feet, which sometimes shuffle and curl up in cramps when I’m sleeping – which is why I keep a very stiff pair of shoes on the floor next to my bed.”
Unfortunately, there is still no cure for Parkinson’s disease, however; Michael’s doctors have managed to figure out a mix of drugs that work well for him and he feels better than he did when he was originally diagnosed. He is also continuously working in the entertainment industry.
In the video below, you can witness Fox in a variety of different interviews sharing his story about his own health, the Foundation, and even his impatience with the disease.
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