He’s not slowing down! Michael J. Fox was 29 years old when he was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. “Honestly, my first reaction was, ‘You’ve made a mistake — you’re not aware of who I am,'” Michael said. “I just thought, ‘This is preposterous that this is happening to me.’ I got this diagnosis, and it freaked me out, and I ran from it.”
But today, at age 57, his diagnosis is not getting in the way of him living life to the fullest. “Aside from the fact that he loves acting, he wants to show the world you don’t have to give up your life’s work because you have Parkinson’s or be ashamed of it,” a source exclusively told Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now.
He’s committed to living in the present. “It’s OK to understand where I am today, but I don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about where I’ll be tomorrow,” he shared. “I do the things I need to do — exercise or manage my meds correctly or get the correct amount of rest — but I don’t do them so tomorrow’s better. I do them so today is good.”
This wasn’t always Michael’s mindset, however. The Back to The Future actor admitted that he turned to alcohol when he was first diagnosed. “I responded by drinking too much. I drank to obliterate it, to make it go away.” His abuse, sadly, “caused tension in my marriage, which had always been good and has been amazing since.”
Luckily, Tracy Pollan stuck by her husband’s side during those tough times. “My wife is just an amazing person,” Michael shared. “I credit her with a lot of my ability to deal with this — and also shutting down my early attempts to deal with it in a non-productive way by drinking or getting angry.”
His four kids have been nothing but supportive as well. “If I were to use one word to describe my kids, it’s ‘kind,'” Michael said. “They take it in — it’s just natural. I don’t know how we got so lucky that they turned out this way, but they apply that to everything they do.” He added, “They didn’t get anxiety from [my disease]. They got peace from it, and it’s kept them honest. They pour orange juice for me. It’s great. You understand there’s bigger stuff going on than just yourself.”
That said, Michael is appreciating his life quest to inspire others with Parkinson’s disease. He concluded, “Somebody said, ‘Someday, there’s going to be a cure for Parkinson’s, and it’s gonna be because of you. It was the first time that really struck me. If that happens, it’s much more special than any movie or TV show.”
For more on Michael J. Fox, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more exclusive news!