Michael J. Fox has been honored by “Variety” magazine as philanthropist of the year for his commitment to mobilizing patients and researchers to bring an end to Parkinson’s disease (PD). In the August 7 issue, “Variety” discusses the intersection of Michael’s professional career with his personal journey navigating PD. The story also covers the earliest days of The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) and our recent approaches to amplifying the patient voice in Parkinson’s research. Read the full piece here.
Nearly thirty years since his diagnosis in 1991 at age 29, Michael admits he ran away from his Parkinson’s at first, before deciding to come to terms with the disease:
“I said, ‘I need to learn more about this.’ And after it was alarming and freakish and scary and nightmarish, Parkinson’s was settling. I was able to accept the fact of it, accept the truth of it. But acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means accepting and then moving on.”
Upon revealing his Parkinson’s publicly in 1998, Michael instantly became the celebrity face of a disease that was “considered by society to be a ‘shaky old person’s disease.’” Two years later, with the founding of MJFF, Michael realized his vision to propel Parkinson’s research forward:
“I wanted to identify the research and have the money go out right away. I wanted to inspire scientists to do the work now. We’re not here to sit on the money, we’re here to put it out. And it’s just fantastic because it’s grown from just that instinct to immeasurable heights and dynamically new possibilities.”
MJFF Co-Founder & Executive Vice Chairman Debi Brooks, who is featured in the article, talks about why Michael’s persona resonates with the community:
“[Michael] has led by example to be engaged and not just to say ‘I have Parkinson’s,’ but this is what we can do as a community. And it’s really him as a peer speaking to other peers, whether it’s a Parkinson’s patient or their families or our organization as a whole. Our whole organization is part of that voice, which is, that this is not something that happens to you and then you sit by idly and hope good things fall from the sky, but that there are a variety of ways in which patients and families can step into this and be active.”
Michael closes with his advice for others living with Parkinson’s disease:
“There’s no good answer for how to deal with Parkinson’s. There’s no flat thing. You experience it and you push through it and you try to make as many friends as you can along the way. You can’t depend on other people’s kindness, but in recognizing it’s in there you can elicit it. So why have a glib outlook? If you obsess on the worst-case scenario and it happens, then it’s like it’s happened twice. So stay as positive as you can, because it might make the difference.”
Read the entire “Variety” story, “Michael J. Fox on Parkinson’s, Overcoming Fear and the Race for a Cure.” Then, join our community to stay up-to-date on the latest news in Parkinson’s research.