Michael J. Fox has been a shining beacon with his openness about his battle with Parkinson’s disease; but it wasn’t always that way!
The beloved Back to the Future actor has been working hard for the last two decades to find a cure for the affliction. And this year, ahead of his annual A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson’s fundraiser benefit gala, he decided to speak up about some of his early experiences with the disease.
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Sitting down with ET for an interview released on Thursday, the film star opened up about how disturbing, aggressive tabloid and paparazzi coverage actually led him to reveal his diagnosis publicly for the first time back in 1999.
The Spin City alum, who had initially been diagnosed with the disease seven years before his reveal, in 1992, recalled how paparazzi members would heckle him about it outside his home:
“It was seven or eight years after I had been diagnosed … [and] the paparazzi and stuff, they would stand outside my apartment and heckle at me, like, ‘What’s the matter with you?’ I said, ‘I can’t be making my neighbors deal with this.’”
That’s truly disgusting behavior! Then again, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that paparazzi members would resort to such tactics considering what some have done and continue to do. Sigh…
Even amid that terrible ordeal, though, Fox’s ever-optimistic spirit shined through.
Determined not to live like that, he opted to publicly reveal his diagnosis. And as he remembers it now, that turned out to be a very positive change:
“I came out, and it was great. It was a great thing. It was a great surprise to me that people responded the way they responded. They responded with interest, in the desire to find an answer to the the disease, and then I saw that as a great opportunity. I didn’t get put in this position to squander it.”
Making the most of his life, even when difficult things happen. So inspiring!
Humble as can be, the man who rose to fame in the 1980s as Alex P. Keaton and then Marty McFly nevertheless downplayed his role as an inspiration for others:
“I am grateful when people express to me that [my story] means something… But I don’t get up and go, ‘Oh, I’m Mr. Impact!’ I’ve had Parkinson’s for 30 years. I think it’s part of my life, it’s what and it’s who I am and it’s a struggle sometimes. I’m not gonna lie, it’s really hard to get up and get ready and get out in the world [some days]. There are days that suck. [But there’s] just an understanding that I will get through it. At any moment, you have a choice: I cannot get through this moment or I can get through this moment.”
That last line is such GREAT advice!
Honestly, we’re amazed and impressed that Fox took a terrible ordeal with the paparazzi and turned it into an inspiring, decades-long drive to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease. Talk about making the most of a bad situation.
[Image via Jason Mendez/WENN]