Michael J. Fox on Staying Positive After Terrible Loss: ‘She’d Never Add Up the Losses’

Michael J. Fox is a beloved actor and philanthropist who has captured the hearts of millions with his charismatic personality and remarkable acting talent. However, his life has been profoundly impacted by a battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Fox was diagnosed with this degenerative neurological disorder in 1991, at the age of 29. Initially, he kept his diagnosis a secret, but he later chose to go public with his condition in 1998, becoming a powerful advocate for Parkinson’s disease awareness and research.

His decision to use his celebrity status to raise awareness has had a profound impact on the Parkinson’s community, shining a light on the challenges faced by those living with the disease.

Despite the significant health challenges he has faced, Michael J. Fox has continued to work in the entertainment industry and has shown incredible resilience.

He established the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000, which has become a leading organization dedicated to finding a cure for the disease.

Through this foundation, Fox has raised millions of dollars for research and has played a pivotal role in advancing our understanding of Parkinson’s and potential treatments.

His unwavering commitment to the cause has earned him numerous accolades and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2020, highlighting his remarkable contributions to both the entertainment world and the field of medical research.

Michael J. Fox’s journey with Parkinson’s disease serves as an inspiration to many. He has demonstrated that one can face life’s most challenging obstacles with grace, humor, and a determination to make a positive impact.

His advocacy has not only raised awareness about Parkinson’s disease but has also fostered hope for those living with it and their families.

Michael J. Fox’s legacy extends far beyond his successful acting career; it encompasses his dedication to improving the lives of those affected by Parkinson’s and his tireless efforts to find a cure for this debilitating condition.

The actor discusses the death of his 92-year-old mother, Phyllis, in September.

Michael J. Fox has famously embraced the power of positivity over his three decades of battling Parkinson’s disease. It’s a trait he inherited from his mother, Phyllis, who died in September at 92.

“My mum had a long and fulfilling life. “There was no more revered woman,” Fox, 61, said. “She was a lovely lady. You were confident that you would be treated fairly. And she loved to laugh—she laughed all the time.”

Phyllis was concerned when he told her about his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis in 1991 at 29.

“I was still working TV and movies and establishing a family when I launched the foundation,” adds Fox, who married actress Tracy Pollan in 1988. Their son Sam, now 33, was born in 1989, and the couple added twin daughters Aquinnah and Schuyler — now 27 — in 1995, followed by their youngest, Esmé, 21.

“When she questioned how I did it all, I told her, ‘I just go forward.'” I’m not interested in taking stock or lamenting that something isn’t going to happen. My mum was the same way. She’d never calculate the losses. She’d consider the benefits.”

Fox links his resilience lessons to his youth with his mother and father, William, who died in 1990. Fox and his four siblings watched out for one another as military kids (William spent 25 years in the Canadian forces), and Phyllis was the glue that held the family together.

“Army wives are adaption masters,” he says. “They just know how to handle a new scenario, get the house together, get the schools set up, get a job on the side — since military money is nothing. We didn’t get it as youngsters. Now I understand.”

The actor, who has raised more than $1.5 billion for Parkinson’s research through the Michael J. Fox Foundation, acknowledges that his armor of optimism took a beating over the last year, which included a fractured hand, shoulder, right arm, and elbow.

But he’s upbeat today, “rocking and rolling” as his recuperation finally comes full circle. “I’m just coming through where the last of my injuries are mending up; my arm feels terrific,” he says. “Life is fascinating. This is what you get.”

In rough times, Fox remembers a maxim he devised while recovering from a dangerous spinal cord surgery to remove a tumor on his spine in 2018.

“If I can find thankfulness in anything I do and whatever scenario I’m in if I can find one little thing to be grateful for, it turns the whole situation around and allows for the possibility of grace, of something great happening,” the actor says. “I’m just getting back into that groove, so it’s very good.”

 

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