Michael J. Fox, 62, says he doesn't 'fear' death as fights Parkinson's

Michael J. Fox, 62, says he doesn’t ‘fear’ death amid 30-year battle with Parkinson’s: ‘One day I’ll run out of gas’

Michael J. Fox has revealed he ‘does not fear death’ as he reflected on his 30 year battle with Parkinson’s disease in a candid interview,

The Back to the Future alum, 62, who was first diagnosed in 1991 at age 29 told Town & Country: ‘One day I’ll run out of gas. One day I’ll just say, “It’s not going to happen. I’m not going out today. If that comes, I’ll allow myself that. I’m 62 years old.’

He added: ‘Certainly, if I were to pass away tomorrow, it would be premature, but it wouldn’t be unheard of. And so, no, I don’t fear that’.

Reflecting on what does scare him, the Hollywood legend brought to mind the safety of his wife, Tracy Pollan, and their four children – Sam, Aquinnah, Schuyler and Esme.

‘Anything that would put my family in jeopardy,’ he said.

Bravery: Michael J. Fox has revealed he ‘does not fear death’ as he reflected on his 30 year battle with Parkinson’s disease in a candid interview (pictured April 2023) 

Loved ones: Reflecting on what does scare him, the Hollywood legend brought to mind the safety of his wife, Tracy Pollan, and their four children – Sam, Aquinnah, Schuyler and Esme

Fox has previously told how 2018 was one of his worst years after he had spinal cord surgery to remove a benign tumour and then broke his arm soon afterwards.

The tumour, which was unrelated to his Parkinson’s, threatened to paralyse him so he had the surgery, but during his four-month rehabilitation, he then fell over in his kitchen and broke his upper arm.

Speaking to Town & Country, Michael told how the injuries now seem like ‘nothing’ as he has since broken his other arm, shoulder and hand.

Michael  also smashed his orbital bone and almost lost his hand after it became infected.

He told the publication of his health struggles: ‘My hand got infected and then I almost lost it. It was a tsunami of misfortune.’

The Doc Hollywood star admitted he ditched his ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ philosophy amid the series of injuries, and thought ‘I’m out of the lemonade business’ when he fell in his kitchen.

Michael has been living with Parkinson’s disease since his diagnosis at 29 in 1991, while he went public with the news in 1998, and has devoted himself to finding a cure through his foundation.

Protective: The star is pictured with his wife and their four children  in 2018

He retired from acting in 2020 due to his symptoms – which have included tremors, impaired movement, coordination and muscle stiffness.

Read the full story in Town & Country’s November 2023 Tenth Annual Philanthropy issue – out now

Earlier this year, Michael spoke candidly about the painful realities of living with the disorder in an interview with CBS Sunday Mornings.

He confesses that life with Parkinson’s is getting ‘tougher’ every day, adding: ‘But, that’s the way it is and who do I see about that?’ 

‘You don’t die from Parkinson’s. You die with Parkinson’s. So I’ve been thinking about the mortality of it. I’m not gonna be 80. I’m not gonna be 80,’ he added.

Michael J. Fox Foundation has become the largest non-profit funder of Parkinson’s disease research in the world, with more than $1billion of research projects to date. 

Read the full story in Town & Country’s November 2023 Tenth Annual Philanthropy issue – out now. 


What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years, according to the NHS website.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS says there are three major symptoms, including tremors or shaking, slowness of movement and muscle stiffness.

Other symptoms include problems with balance, loss of smell, nerve pain, excessive sweating and dizziness.

Some people can also experience lack of sleep, excessive production of saliva and problems swallowing, causing malnutrition and dehydration.

What are the early signs?

Symptoms can start gradually, sometimes beginning with a barely noticeable tremor in just one part of the body.

In the early stages, people may show little or no expression, and their arms may not swing when they walk.

Speech can also become soft or slurred, with the condition worsening over time.

What are the causes?

Some scientists believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors are the cause of Parkinson’s disease.

It occurs after a person experiences loss of nerve cells in a part of their brain.

However, it is not known why the loss of nerve cells associated with the condition takes place but research is ongoing to identify potential causes.

Scientists say genetics factor can increase a person’s risk of developing the disease, and can therefore run in families.

Other factors attributed to causing the condition include environmental problems such as pollution, though such links are inconclusive, the NHS says.

How is it diagnosed?

No tests can conclusively show if a person has the disease, but doctors can make a diagnosis based on symptoms, medical history and a physical examination.

A specialist will ask the person to write or draw, walk or speak to check for any common signs of the condition.

They may even check for difficulty making facial expressions and slowness of limb movement.

How many people are affected?

Around 145,000 people live with Parkinson’s disease in the UK, according to the charity Parkinson’s UK.

What happens if someone is diagnosed?

According to the charity, it is a legal requirement to contact the DVLA, as a diagnosed person will need to have a medical or driving assessment.

The organisation also advises people to contact any insurance providers and find out about financial support available.

People are also encouraged to partake in more exercise.

Can it be treated?

Although there is no cure, a number of treatments are available to help reduce the symptoms.

The main remedies include medication, exercise, therapy and surgery, which can help people in different ways.

What medication is available and what are the side effects?

Medication can be helpful in improving the main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as shaking and movement problems.

There are three main types which are commonly used, levodopa, dopamine agonist or a MAO-B inhibitor. Each can affect people in different ways.

The drugs do have some side effects, including impulsive and compulsive behaviour, hallucinations, sleep issues and blood pressure changes.

What therapy is available?

There are several therapies available to those with Parkinson’s through the NHS.

Among them are physiotherapy to reduce muscle stiffness, occupational therapy to help with completing day-to-day tasks and speech and language coaching.

Does this change the way you live?

Most people’s life expectancy will not change a great deal, though more advanced symptoms can lead to increased disability and poor health.

It can also cause some cognitive issues and changes to mood and mental health.

Those with Parkinson’s are encouraged to exercise more often, with scientists saying 2.5 hours of exercise a week is enough to slow the progression of symptoms.

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