CELEBRITY

Michael J.Fox makes heartbreaking health confession

The beloved actor has been battling Parkinson's disease for more than 30 years.
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He shot to global fame at the age of 24 as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future film franchise, but it’s what actor Michael J. Fox has been up to in the years since his “big break” that has continued to generate headlines. 

Specifically, Michael’s ongoing battle with Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, and difficulty with balance, coordination, and sadly even speech. 

WATCH NOW: Michael J Fox and Tracy Pollan’s love story.

While Parkinson’s itself is unfortunately relatively common, with an estimated 10 million people living with the condition across the globe, Michael was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s at the age of 29, the progressive disease more commonly diagnosed in those over the age of 50. 

After being formally diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991, the beloved actor chose to keep his health struggles private until 1998, going on to found The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000, with the desire to fund research into both curing and developing therapies to support those living with the disease. 

In the 24 years since the foundation was launched, more than $1.75 billion has been raised, moving the field closer to a cure. It has also been described as “the most credible voice on Parkinon’s research in the world,” by the New York Times.  

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Michael is best known for his portrayal of Marty McFly in the “Back to the Future” trilogy. (Credit: Getty)

In a recent interview with PEOPLE, Michael reflected upon his life since being diagnosed. 

“What I believed then and what I believe now, I might not put it in the same words, but you can do anything. Anything,” he shared with the publication. 

“You don’t have to follow other people’s prognostications for what life is going to be. Life’s going to be what you make it.”

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Michael has an incredibly positive outlook on life. (Credit: Getty)

Four months prior when speaking with Town & Country magazine, the now 62-year-old reflected upon his uncertain future, sharing that it “wouldn’t be unheard of” if he were to lose his battle with the disease in the not-so-distant future. 

“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. 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,” the Parkinson’s advocate lamented. 

According to research conducted by the foundation, patients usually live between 10 and 20 years after initial diagnosis, a lifespan Michael has well and truly exceeded, much to the joy of fans and his loving friends and family. 

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Christopher Loyd and Michael J. Fox attended a “Back to the Future” Reunion at New York Comic Con in October 2022. (Credit: Getty)

Despite changing the trajectory of his life so drastically, Michael has found the positives in his prognosis. 

“I’ve said Parkinson’s is a gift. It’s the gift that keeps on taking, but it has changed my life in so many positive ways,” he shared in the same interview. 

This interview isn’t the first time Michael has opened up about his impending death, making the sad confession to CBS Sunday Morning in early 2023 that he believes it unlikely that he will still be alive for another two decades, despite his desire to live. 

“You don’t die from Parkinon’s, you die with Parkinson’s,” the father of four shared at the time. 

“So I’ve been thinking of the mortality of it. I’m not going to be 80. I’m not going to be 80.”

He added: “I recognise how hard this is for people and recognise how hard it is for me but I have a certain set of skills that allow me to deal with this stuff and I realise, with gratitude, optimism is sustainable. If you can find something to be grateful for then you find something to look forward to and you carry on.”

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Michael has been married to fellow actor Tracy Pollan for almost 35 years. (Credit: Getty)

But no matter the reality of what will come to pass, Michael says he continues to live “one day at a time”, telling PEOPLE in May 2023 that he lives for “each moment” and loves “each day.”

“The average age of death is 77. It’s not that far out on a lamb. [But] if you told me when I was 29 when they just diagnosed it, that at 62 I’d still be going at it, that life would be so full, I never would have guessed it,” he shared with the publication. 

“I’m cautiously optimistic, but most optimistic, not so much cautious, as my family would say,” he continued. 

Michael has written extensively about his optimistic outlook on life, acting career, and activism in three separate memoirs:

Stream Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie now on AppleTV+ with a 7 day free trial. Subscribe here. 

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