Twenty-one years after his initial diagnosis, actor and philanthropist Michael J. Fox opens up in the April/May issue of AARP The Magazine about his battle with Parkinson’s disease and the support system that gets him through it all.
This fall, the Golden Globe Award winner returns to the small screen in a new NBC comedy series, while continuing his work with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Says Fox’s longtime friend and Rescue Me costar, Denis Leary, “As his friend, I was a little concerned when Mike announced he was doing a network show and wondered whether he was up for all the work. But then you talk to him and hear his enthusiasm and you think, ‘This man is still unstoppable.’”
The following are excerpts from the April/May issue of AARP The Magazine cover story, available in homes April 1st and online NOW at www.aarp.org/magazine.
On his outlook on life
"There’s an idea I came across a few years ago that I love. My happiness grows in direct proportion [to] my acceptance and in inverse proportion to my expectations."
“If I can accept the truth of: This is what I’m facing—not what can I expect but what I am experiencing now—then I have all this freedom to do other things.”
“I’m always aware that there are others who don’t feel so good and can’t express themselves the way I can. That’s no small factor in the way I’ve been able to deal with this.”
On maintaining his sense of humor
"If I’m at events and I’m clapping, my mind will say, ‘Stop clapping,’ but I just keep going. Tracy says, ’You’re always the last one clapping.’ I swear, it’s not out of appreciation—it’s out of disintegration. You have to laugh at that."
“When I start pouring, I don’t know what’s going to happen. The next thing I know, I’m spraying All-Bran all over the kitchen.”
On living with long-term conditions
"It’s like your gyroscope is off. I can be shaky. I can be slow. I can wake up with festination and I’ll say, ‘This is going to be a struggle today.’"
“Tracy and I were talking the other day about all the people we know who since my diagnosis have died of cancer or had terrible things happen to them. If you would have told them 10 years ago you can have that or you can have what I have, they would have taken what I have. That’s only to say we all get our own bag of hammers.”
On writing Parkinson’s into his character roles
“It’s too difficult to hide it. I could manage it for a scene or so, but it would fall apart over time. As long as I play a guy with Parkinson’s, I can do anything.”
On his marriage to wife, Tracy Pollan
"The more problems you solve together and the more experiences and laughs you have, the tighter you get."
For the complete interview, along with behind the scenes video, click here.