Michael J. Fox Just Gave a Heartbreaking Update About His Parkinson's Disease
The 61-year-old actor revealed in a new interview that he doesn't believe he'll see 80.
Through his journey and outspokenness about his Parkinson's disease diagnosis, Michael J. Fox has been an inspiration to many. He's also directly impacted the lives of others who have the disease and their loved ones through his Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. The foundation has raised over $1 billion for research that contributed to a recent breakthrough involving a biomarker for the disease. But while the actor has shared plenty of positive updates from the foundation and become known for his optimism, living with his diagnosis has gotten more difficult, and that's something he's being honest about, too.
In a new interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Fox gave an update about his Parkinson's, including how long he expects to live given how it's progressed. Read on to find out more.
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Fox says life is getting "tougher."
During his interview with CBS Sunday Morning, host Jane Pauley said to Fox, "You've not squandered any of your capacity. But at some point, Parkinson's gonna make the call for you, isn't it?"
He responded, "Yeah, it's, it's banging on the door. Yeah, I mean, I'm not gonna lie. It's gettin' hard, it's gettin' harder. It's gettin' tougher. Every day it's tougher. But, but, that's, that's the way it is. I mean, you know, who do I see about that?"
He detailed the setbacks he's experienced recently.
Fox told Pauley that after having surgery on his spine to remove a benign tumor, he's been experiencing falls more often, which is one of the dangers of Parkinson's.
"It messed up my walking," he said of aftermath of the surgery. "And then, started to break stuff." He said he broke his arm, his elbow, his hand, and a part of his face.
Fox called falling "a big killer with Parkinson's … and aspirating food and getting pneumonia. All these subtle ways that gets ya." He added, "You don't die from Parkinson's. You die with Parkinson's." Fox said that he's "been thinking about the mortality of it … I'm not gonna be 80."
The actor said in the past that he does not expect a cure to be developed in his in lifetime. "As I wrote in my latest book, I'm now out of the lemonade business," he told AARP: The Magazine. "I'm really blunt with people about cures. When they ask me if I will be relieved of Parkinson's in my lifetime, I say, 'I'm 60 years old, and science is hard. So, no.'"
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He's reconsidered his optimism.
The book Fox was referring to is his 2020 book No Time Like The Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality.
"There is no way to put a shine on my circumstance," he writes in the book (via The Guardian). "Have I oversold optimism as a panacea, commodified hope? In telling other patients, 'Chin up! It will be OK', did I look to them to validate my optimism? Is it because I needed to validate it myself? Things don't always turn out. Sometimes things turn [expletive]. My optimism is suddenly finite."
But, he explained, he does still have positivity within him. "I believe in all the hopeful things I said before," he told The Guardian in 2020. "But that all seems silly when you're lying on the floor, waiting for the ambulance because you broke your arm, and you feel like an idiot because you told everyone you'd be fine and you're not."
But he's far from given up.
Fox told The Guardian he came to a conclusion after going through a dark time and considering his life, his diagnosis, and his outlook.
"When I broke my arm, it was relatively minor, but that was the thing that destroyed me. I thought, what further indignity do I have to suffer? What have I done? Maybe I was wrong to think I couldn't complain before, maybe optimism doesn't work," he said. "Then I came to a place of gratitude. Finding something to be grateful for is what it's about."
The Spin City star expanded on this to CBS Sunday Morning. "I recognize how hard this is for people, and I recognize how hard this is for me," he said. "But I have a certain set of skills that allow me to deal with this stuff. And I realize with gratitude, optimism is sustainable."