Michael J. Fox Shares Update on How He’s Doing Regarding His Parkinson’s Disease

Entertainment Tonight

When you see Michael J. Fox, you probably think of the Back to the Future movie series or Family Ties TV show. But he’s a lot different now than he was when he played those roles.

Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was just 29 years old, and, at 60 years old, he’s sharing an update on how he’s doing—which is pretty well. “I’m kind of a freak. It’s weird that I’ve done as well as I have for as long as I have,” he said in an AARP interview.

“People often think of Parkinson’s as a visual thing, but the visuals of it are nothing. On any given day, my hands could be barely shaking or they could be …” he says, mimicking flailing arms. “It’s what you can’t see — the lack of an inner gyroscope, of a sense of balance, of peripheral perception. I mean, I’m sailing a ship on stormy seas on the brightest of days.”

Fox has so much stamina. In 1991, he was told by a doctor that he had maybe 10 years to live. What keeps him going is his ability to remain optimistic and shift his focus from negative to positive. And a lot of that is because he isn’t scared of dying. “I am genuinely a happy guy,” he says. “I don’t have a morbid thought in my head — I don’t fear death. At all.”

Fox says a big part of his positivity comes from having gratitude. “As I came through that darkness, I had an insight about my father-in-law, who had passed away and always espoused gratitude and acceptance and confidence,” he explained. “And I started to notice things I was grateful for and the way other people would respond to difficulty with gratitude. I concluded that gratitude makes optimism sustainable.”

Many people mind wonder how he’s able to stay so grateful for things, even with the way his diagnosis is going. And Fox says the key is to not wait to receive optimism.

“If you don’t think you have anything to be grateful for, keep looking. Because you don’t just receive optimism. You can’t wait for things to be great and then be grateful for that. You’ve got to behave in a way that promotes that.”

Fox also cofounded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, which is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease. “We created what has become this giant network of patients, scientists and institutions,” he says. “We’ve put more than a billion dollars into it. And patients are the key. Now they guide our agenda and have been critical, for example, to our promising work in trying to find biomarkers for Parkinson’s, which would allow us to identify the disease in people before symptoms are evident, and to treat it proactively and get rid of it.”

Fox also has some great advice for people living with Parkinson’s: “Have an active life and do not let yourself get isolated and marginalized. You can live with it,” he says.

“People sometimes say that a relative or a parent or a friend died of Parkinson’s. You don’t die of  Parkinson’s. You die with Parkinson’s, because once you have it, you have it for life — until we can remedy that, and we’re working hard at it,” he adds. “So, to live with it, you need to exercise and be in shape and to eat well. If you can’t drive, find a way to get around. Maintain friendships. Don’t say, “Oh, I don’t have anything to say to Bob.” Bob might have something to say to you. Just make the call.”

You can hear how Fox sounds these days in a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight below.

Such positive words! What do you think of Fox’s philosophy on life?