Fox credits his wife Tracy Pollan for standing by his side as he slowly came to terms with the diagnosis, overcame alcoholism, and became a powerful activist.
The Back To The Future fame, Michael J. Fox, who turned 61 this June, has been reflecting on his long and difficult journey with Parkinson’s Disease. In 1991, Fox was only 29, climbing the popularity ladder in Hollywood with the success of Family Ties when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease which is a neurodegenerative disorder causing tremors, stillness, and, ultimately, the loss of motor skills. According to PEOPLE, Fox mused, “I was told I only had 10 years left to work. The hardest part of my diagnosis was grappling with the certainty of the diagnosis and the uncertainty of the situation.” However, the actor claimed that his Parkinson’s "truly has been a gift" while accepting the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, an honorary Oscar recognizing his outstanding philanthropic efforts, at Saturday's 13th Governors Awards in Los Angeles.
During his acceptance speech at the award ceremony, the actor said, “It was a gift, as my friend George Stephanopoulos pointed out in a film. I refer to Parkinson's as the gift that keeps on taking. But it truly has been a gift.”
The couple sat down for a conversation with PEOPLE to reveal how they’ve made it through six decades together and are still very much in love. Fox and Pollan met on the sets of Family Ties in the summer of 1985. Later in their career, they started opposite one another for the 1987 film Bright Lights, Big City and the pair eventually tied the knot in 1988. Together they are parents to son Sam, 29, twin daughters Schuyler and Aquinnah, 23, and daughter Esmé, 16.
"I entered into seven years of denial, trying to make sense of it all. The kid who left Canada convinced that he would make anything happen, at least by working hard and by believing, now had a tall order in front of him," he told the outlet. "I only knew it would get worse. The diagnosis was definite, the progress was indefinite and uncertain," he said. "My wife made it clear that she was with me for the duration."
"I told very few people, and they kept my secret," Fox said while talking about his Parkinson’s. "Then there were all kinds of doctors who helped me understand the physical processes that were at work, or not at work, in my brain, as the case may be. Finally, I felt like I needed to tell everybody. I understood it would have a huge impact on my career." Fox credits his wife Tracy Pollan for standing by his side as he slowly came to terms with the diagnosis, overcame alcoholism, and became a powerful activist.
The Golden Globe-winning actor had broken the news of his diagnosis to Barbara Walters and People Magazine and ended up receiving outpouring support from the public and his fans. “All of my peers in the entertainment business, all of you, thank you, and the people that I worked with, was transformative," he said.
Michael J. Fox also launched the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research in 2000 where they managed to raise over $1.5 billion to fund research programs.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Theo Wargo