‘A terrible year’: Michael J Fox shares major health update

Michael J Fox has shared a major health update – revealing he’s suffered a “terrible year” but has been buoyed by a recent breakthrough in Parkinson’s research.

The 61-year-old actor and activist, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease more than 30 years ago, has told Stat News that he broke multiple bones in a fall, including some in his hand and his face.

“It’s been a terrible year,” he said, before adding that he’s “feeling better” now.

For the Back to the Future and Family Ties star, the silver lining has been groundbreaking research on Parkinson’s disease, funded by his Michael J. Fox Foundation – and described by Fox as “a gigantic leap”.

Published this month in The Lancet Neurology, the research found that a key Parkinson’s pathology can be identified by examining spinal fluid from living patients, allowing earlier intervention.

“It’s all changed. It can be known and treated early on. It’s huge,” said Fox, who was diagnosed with the disease at age 29.

“This is the thing. This is the big reward. This is the big trophy.”

The findings are the result of a 1123-person study that has cost the Fox Foundation hundreds of millions of dollars since it began in 2010. A Lancet editorial described the discovery as “a game-changer in Parkinson’s disease diagnostics, research, and treatment trials.”

The latest revelations about Fox’s health came after he told People magazine late in 2022 that he had endured many painful injuries in the previous 12 months, as well as grieving the death of his mother in September.

“I broke my cheek, then my hand, then my shoulder, had a replacement shoulder put in and broke my [right] arm, then I broke my elbow,” he said.

“I’m 61 years old, and I’m feeling it a little bit more.”

He also contracted an infection after surgery on his broken hand, leading to temporal balance issues and repeated falls. Fox said the ongoing issues were frustrating.

“I was never really a cranky guy, but I got very cranky and short with people,” he said.

“I try to nip it in the bud. I always think of these aides who work with me. And I often say to them: ‘Whatever I say, just imagine I said please at the beginning and thank you at the end’.

“Just take a second and absorb that I might have said that if I was more myself, but I didn’t, so I apologise.”

In March, Fox went into further depth about living with Parkinson’s disease after a screening of his documentary, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival.

Asked during a Q&A how he “mobilised” people to care about Parkinson’s, he responded: “I didn’t have a choice,” People reported.

“This is it. I have to give everything I have, and it’s not lip service. I show up and do the best I can,” he said.

Fox told the audience he didn’t have time to feel sorry for himself.

“Pity is a benign form of abuse … There is stuff to be learned from this, so let’s do that and move on,” he said.

Speaking directly to Guggenheim, Fox said: “Parkinson’s sucks, but it’s a great life, so thank you for it.”

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie debuts on Apple TV+ on May 12.

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