Actor Michael J. Fox said during a weekend interview that his long battle with Parkinson’s disease was getting more difficult as the years go by.
Fox, 61, was diagnosed with the progressive and debilitating disease some three decades ago — and he told “CBS Sunday Morning” that he doesn’t foresee living to see his own 80th birthday.
“I’m not gonna be 80,” Fox told veteran journalist Jane Pauley, who noted that the “Back to the Future” actor had certainly not “squandered” his time, but that the nature of diseases like Parkinson’s was that eventually the illness called the shots and it would simply be his time.
“Yeah, it’s, it’s banging on the door,” Fox agreed. “I’m not gonna lie. It’s gettin’ hard, it’s gettin’ harder. It’s gettin’ tougher. Every day it’s tougher.”
The “Family Ties” actor has faced a number of additional health challenges in recent years, which he chalks up to his body simply beginning to break down. Doctors successfully removed a benign tumor that had grown on his spine, but complications from the surgery made it more difficult for him to walk.
He had since suffered other fractures — in his hand, his face, his elbow, and his arm — and pointed out that one of the biggest dangers for people who have Parkinson’s is the fact that they are often unsteady on their feet and prone to falls.
Another possible risk is aspiration of food — and then pneumonia that could develop as a result.”You don’t die from Parkinson’s. You die with Parkinson’s,” Fox explained, noting that it was the little complications that were more likely to result in death than the disease itself. “So – so I’ve been – I’ve been thinking about the mortality of it.”
Fox was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 29 and continued acting for a time with provisions in place to hide his symptoms from viewers.
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Since then, he has devoted much of his time to running The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF), which he founded in the hopes that one day others might benefit from a potential cure.
“I know without fail that we are getting closer—day by day, year by year—to the breakthroughs that will make finding a cure inevitable,” Fox told Neurology Now a decade ago. “A lot of work lies ahead of us. But this is a responsibility we have, and we want people to know someone is trying to get this work done.”
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