Michael J. Fox Calls Parkinson’s Symptoms a ‘Tsunami of Misfortune’ but Admits ‘I Don’t Fear’ Death

The ‘Back to the Future’ star shared his current outlook on life while living with Parkinson’s disease.


Michael J. Fox is committed to maintain a cheerful attitude despite having Parkinson’s disease for more than 30 years.

The 62-year-old Back to the Future star opened out about living with Parkinson’s disease, an incurable degenerative ailment of the central nervous system, and how it’s impacted his attitude on life in his cover story for Town & Country’s Philanthropy issue.

“I’ve always said Parkinson’s is a gift,” he told the publication. “It’s the gift that keeps on taking, but it has changed my life in so many positive ways.”

One approach is through his establishment of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which sponsors research for the discovery of medicines for Parkinson’s patients.


Despite his continued optimism about his own health, Fox recounted years of struggle with his health, both linked and unrelated to his Parkinson’s.

Not only did he endure spinal surgery that may have rendered him paralyzed, but he also had many falls that resulted in him breaking both arms, breaking his hand, smashing his orbital bone and cheek, and more. “It was like a tsunami of misfortune,” he explained.

The actor, on the other hand, describes himself as a “tough son of a bitch” who isn’t afraid of his health fight – or even death.

“One day I’ll run out of gas,” Fox said. “One day I’ll just say, ‘It’s not going to happen. I’m not going out today.’ If that comes, I’ll allow myself that. I’m 62 years old. Certainly, if I were to pass away tomorrow, it would be premature, but it wouldn’t be unheard of. And so, no, I don’t fear that.”

Michael J. Fox. Photo TOWN & COUNTRY

Back in May, Fox told PEOPLE about how severe his Parkinson’s symptoms had become, adding that he doesn’t like to think about what might happen tomorrow.

“I truly live one day at a time,” he said. “I live for each moment and I love each day.”

“The average age of death is 77. It’s not that far out on a limb,” he added with a laugh.

Aside from that, Fox expressed gratitude for being able to accomplish so much. “If you told me when I was 29 when they just diagnosed it, that at 61 I’d still be going at it with a film to promote, that life would be so full, I never would have guessed it,” he told PEOPLE at the time.

“I’m cautiously optimistic, but mostly optimistic, not so much cautious, as my family would say,” continued Fox, who shares four children, Sam, 34, twins Aquinnah and Schuyler, 28, and Esmé, 22, with his wife of 35 years, Tracy Pollan, 63.

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