Alan Alda Reveals He’s Been Battling Parkinson’s Disease for Over Three Years: “I’ve Had a Full Life Since Then”
So brave. Famed actor Alan Alda from M*A*S*H appeared on CBS This Morning on Tuesday, July 31, and revealed something very personal — he’s been battling Parkinson’s disease for over three years.
But it hasn’t slowed him down. “I’m doing great,” he shared with the co-hosts. “And you might be surprised to hear that. I haven’t said in public until now that I’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.”
However, he proudly added that he’s “had a full life since then.” Alan continued, “I’m not angry. It’s a challenge.”
Alan, 82, went on to explain all the things he’s been able to do since his diagnosis three and a half years ago. “I’ve acted, I’ve given talks, I help at the Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook, I started this new podcast,” he shared.
However, something inside was telling him to share his diagnosis with the world so he’d no longer have to worry about it while performing. “I noticed that I had been on television a lot in the last couple of weeks talking about the new podcast, and I could see my thumb twitch in some shots,” he confessed. “And I thought, ‘It’s probably only a matter of time before somebody does a story about this from a sad point of view.’ But that’s not where I am.”
The dad-of-three then opened up about when he knew he had Parkinson’s disease. He spotted an early symptom when he began acting out his dreams, but that was it at the time. “The doctor said, ‘Why do you want a scan? You don’t have any symptoms.’ I said, ‘If there’s anything I can do, I want to do it before things start to show up. Months later — a little twitch in my thumb,” Alan explained.
He then shared some words of wisdom for those also battling Parkinson’s disease. “The thing I want folks to know, and this is not to shortchange people who are suffering with really severe symptoms… but in the very beginning, to be immobilized by fear and think the worst thing has happened to you hasn’t happened to you. You still have things you can do. I’m taking boxing lessons three times a week. I do singles tennis a couple of times a week,” Alan shared. “I march to Souza music because marching to march music is good for Parkinson’s.”
As you can tell, Alan is feeling great and staying very positive today. “Each day is different from the next. One day you wake up and you think, ‘Oh, it’s over! It’s gone!’ The next day it’s back a little worse. You don’t know what it’s going to be,” he shared. “The main thing is there’s stuff you can do. You know how I look at it? It’s like a puzzle to be solved. What do I have to adapt to carry on a normal life? And I enjoy solving puzzles. It’s really fun.”
He added, “It hasn’t stopped my life at all. I’ve had a richer life than I’ve had up until now.” What an inspiration!