Fox was diagnosed with the nervous-system degenerative disorder in 1991, when he was 29 years old and working on movie Doc Hollywood. He kept his health crisis a secret from the public for seven years (only his wife of 28 years, Tracy Pollan, knew), trying to get the most out of his career, which he was convinced would be over soon.
Doctors told him that he would have to cease acting in a decade and that he would be “disabled” before that time was up.
“I was diagnosed 25 years ago, and I was only supposed to work for another 10 years,” said Fox, 55, in an interview with Haute Living. “I was supposed to be pretty much disabled by now. I’m far from it. This is as bad as I get, and I can still go to the store.”
Fox admits that it’s highly unlikely they’ll find a cure for Parkinson’s in his lifetime, but he’s more than pleased with the progress the medical community has made over the last few decades.
“Biology is really hard, and you come into these things and say, ‘Let’s wrap this up in five years,'” he continued. “And then you realize if you wrap this up in 25 years, then you’re doing great. So we’re trying to get things in the pipeline that may be curative and therapeutic to a point where that would resemble a cure. If we can halt progression and diminish symptoms, then I’ll take that.”
The Back to the Future actor also says that his aging body doesn’t help matters, but he says the tremors he’s experienced for years aren’t as bad anymore.
“The biggest problem I have now is balance,” he said. “That’s kind of tricky because you fall down a couple of times at 55 and you realize that you’re not 25.”
“I don’t have expectations, but whatever happens, happens,” he continued. “I hope it’s a good thing, and I trust it’ll be a good thing. My acceptance is not resignation. I can accept something for what it is and then beyond that move on to rectify that, remedy it, or change it in some way. I have accepted to acknowledge it.”
Fox has definitely defied the odds, still appearing in guest spots on TV shows when he can. In the past several years, he’s popped up on The Good Wife and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He will be voicing the character of Archie, a robot dog, in upcoming film A.R.C.H.I.E.
In the human body, movement is normally controlled by dopamine — a chemical that carries signals in the brain — but when the cells that create dopamine die, symptoms of Parkinson’s appear, according to Parkinson Society Canada.
It’s a tricky condition to diagnose. Common symptoms include a tremor, slowness and stiffness or impaired balance. You could be tired, have problems with handwriting, or have trouble sleeping.
The disease progresses at different rates depending on the person. Sometimes, it’s a small tremor, and in other cases patients need physical therapy to cope with mobility or flexibility problems. Parkinson’s can’t be cured, but medications made a significant improvement, according to the Mayo Clinic. In some cases, surgery helps to regulate certain regions of the brain that are affected.
-With files from ET Canada and Carmen Chai