In the decades since his diagnosis, actor Michael J. Fox has emerged as one of the most outspoken supporters of Parkinson’s research, helping to raise billions for the cause. But before that, he claimed on Sunday, he had been in “seven years of denial.”
The “Back to the Future” and “Family Ties” star spoke about his difficulty accepting his Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis while receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy Awards on Sunday. According to The Academy’s website, the honor is given to a “person in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.”
In his acceptance speech, Fox described his transformation from a Canadian high school dropout to an accomplished actor, saying that it was a “unexpected honor.”
He admitted to the crowd, “I did leave high school in the eleventh grade, sell my guitar, and move to L.A. “… My history professor told me about my idea and remarked, “Fox, you’re not going to be cute forever.” Perhaps just long enough, sir, was all I could say because I didn’t know how else to react. possibly just long enough In the end, we were both correct.”
His career “reached full stride” after a short while.
Fox stated on Sunday that throughout his early days, weeks, and years in the American film and television industry, he “booked some jobs, plunged in a few dumpsters, avoided a few landlords, and ultimately I found myself inexplicably on a TV series called ‘Family Ties.'” “I felt like I’m on top of the world. It was all nice in the neighborhood, I had a successful television show, and I had two completed films.”
But then, at the age of only 29, he received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, a neurological condition that can impair cognition, induce depression, and produce tremors, delayed movement, balance issues, and stiff limbs, among other symptoms.
Fox claimed, “I was informed I only had 10 years left to work.” That was ridiculous.
“Wrestling with the reality of the diagnosis and the uncertainty of the situation was the worst part of my diagnosis,” he stated. “Only that things will get worse was all I knew. The prognosis was unmistakable. The development was ambiguous and illogical.”
Fox claimed that although his 1988 bride Tracy Pollan made it clear that she “was with me for the duration,” he was not yet ready to accept what the doctors were telling him.
“After that, I went through seven years of denial while attempting to make sense of everything. The young person who left Canada, certain that anything was possible with hard effort and belief, suddenly faced a challenging task “stated Fox. “I didn’t tell many people. They kept my secret a secret.”
In 1998, he ultimately made the decision to reveal his illness. He chose to tell his tale to People Magazine and Barbara Walters of ABC while he was filming “Spin City” at the time. It was “the dawn of the internet,” he said on Sunday, and those were the places to turn to “if you wanted to get news out.”
“What followed was extraordinary, both for the public’s outpouring of support and for my peers in the entertainment industry’s lovely response. I want to thank you everyone. It changed things.”
“Everything I had been given—success, my relationship with Tracy, my family—seemed to have equipped me for this enormous opportunity and responsibility. It was a present.”
After that, Fox continued to research the illness. He interviewed other people who had been diagnosed, doctors, and eminent scientists and discovered that funding for additional research was what was most needed.
To that end, he established the Michael J. Fox Foundation two years after disclosing his condition. He revealed to The Academy audience on Sunday that he had originally intended to title it “PD Cure,” but his wife inquired, “Pedicure?” The rest became history.
According to Fox, his charity has currently raised more than $1.5 billion towards Parkinson’s research. In addition, the foundation, according to its website, has supported “scores” of clinical trials, funded or sponsored 20 early-stage therapeutic programs, and created “the most comprehensive dataset and biosample library in the history of Parkinson’s research.”
But even after that effect, Fox said on Sunday that “what I did was not heroic.”