Michael J. Fox – Living with Parkinson’s disease

Michael J. Fox - Living with Parkinson's disease

            What if you were told you had cancer, Parkinson's disease or even a brain tumor?  How would you handle it? Here is how Michael J. Fox handled his diagnosis of Parkinson's disease at the age of 29.

            Michael was born in 1961 in Canada.  He started acting at the age of 15, doing mostly small parts in television.  After moving to California, he landed the role of Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties, and his American career took off. Growing up, he considered himself an "Army Brat", moving around constantly.  This taught him to rely on himself and used humor to fit in whenever he moved. Because of his humor and ability to adapt, I feel this helped prepare him for his diagnosis later in life.

            Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991, while filming the movie Doc Hollywood. He thought he had strained his shoulder while performing a stunt, due to his pinky finger continually twitching. Parkinson's disease deals with brain chemicals not being stable and telling our nervous system how to act correctly. 

            Before his diagnosis, Fox was acting in the comedy films Back To the Future I,II & III, The Secretof My Success , the TV show Family Ties and a couple of more dramatic films like Doc Hollywood and Casualties of War.  Acting in itself probably helped him cover up true feelings about his diagnosis, but after being diagnosed, he still continued to use humor and spirituality to help him cope.  His "boyish-trying-to-be-a-man" sense of humor always came through in his movies and TV shows, no matter what character he played. 

            This sense of humor and ability to adapt seem to be the main influences in living with his diagnosis.  He is also known for not being particularly religious, but acknowledges a higher being or God. His strength comes from the bond of his family and the love of his fans.  He even created a new sitcom after being diagnosed.  In 2013, he created the Michael J. Fox Show, which depicts a man with Parkinson's disease.  He also starred as the Deputy Mayor on Spin City, while now publically dealing with his disease.  His dedication to his career, but also his family and fans shows true courage, and the ability to use humor to incorporate his disease into his career.

            Just within October 2016, Nike and Fox donated over $6.75 million dollars to the Parkinson's disease foundation. These Nike shoes are the self-lacing types, depicted on his BTTF movies.  He is a very outspoken advocate for the Parkinson's Foundation and has also created his own Michael J. Fox Parkinson's disease Foundation, helping with research to find a cure.  His choices and legacy will help millions of people with this disease for years to come. 

            I chose to write about Michael J. Fox because in 1991, my father was also diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.  He was 49. This disease is a horrible disease, eating away at persons' brain and body, while destroying the confidence and personality of this person.  Some people give in to it, but like Fox, my father worked through his disease until the end.  He was a farmer and discovered many different situations that actually helped relieve symptoms, which was used by other patients to much success.  My father ended up in a teaching textbook for doctors studying Parkinson's.  His situation was very unusual, but he chose for his legacy to continue in this way to help new doctors and new research find a cure.  My father may not have been a celebrity, but he was to me.

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