Just in time for Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April, AARP The Magazine featured Michael J. Fox on the cover of their April/May issue. Michael discussed the range of emotions he has experienced in the 26 years since he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD), the strength and support of his family, internalising misconceptions of the disease and feeling empowered by the PD community.
In his interview filled with personal anecdotes, Michael also brings awareness to the realities of living with Parkinson’s and reveals his six strategies for “surviving adversity”: exercise, pacing, acceptance, honesty, optimism and humor.
The truth is that on most days, there comes a point where I literally can’t stop laughing at my own symptoms.”
“Just the other morning. I come into the kitchen. Oh, good, coffee. I’m gonna get some! No, wait — I’m gonna get some for Tracy — who’s at the table with the paper. I pour a cup — a little trouble there. Then I put both hands around the cup. She’s watching. ‘Can I get that for you, dear?’ ‘Nah, I got it!’ Then I begin this trek across the kitchen. It starts off bad. Only gets worse. Hot java’s sloshing onto my hands, onto the floor …” Of course, by the time I reach the table, the cup’s all but empty. ‘Here’s your coffee, dear — enjoy!‘”
He talks about being energised by the Parkinson’s community and immediately feeling “better, just empowered, knowing there were people who understood what I was going through.” Michael also shared how his enthusiasm toward research was empowering for the physicians, specialists and scientists he met:
They’d never had a patient coming in and saying, ‘Hey, what’s in your petri dish?’ They’d go, ‘ You really wanna know?’ Hell, yeah, I wanted to know! ‘Then I’m gonna show you!’ We’d be standing there, both thinking, the stuff in that dish could affect me.
After going public with his diagnosis in 1998, Michael realised a disparity between the public perception of Parkinson’s and his lived experience with the disease:
You deal with the condition, and you deal with people’s perception of the condition. It was easy for me to tune in to the way other people were looking into my eyes and seeing their own fear reflected back. I’d assure them that ‘I’m doing great’ — because I was. After a while, the disconnect between the way I felt and the dread people were projecting just seemed, you know, funny.
Shake It Up Australia Foundation formed a partnership with The Michael J Fox Foundation in 2011 and together have funded over $5.6M into Australia Parkinson’s research.
For World Parkinson’s Day on April 11 we encourage you to get involved in Pause 4 Parkinson’s and help us raise funds for better treatments and ultimately a cure.
View some highlights on a Sunday night interview between Michael and Shake It Up Founder Clyde Campbell