In the past few months leading up to tonight’s premiere of “The Michael J. Fox Show,” I’ve been asked many times how he’s doing it. How is Michael well enough to go back on television full-time?
There is no simple answer. For every Parkinson’s patient, the experience is different, and Michael has acknowledged the advantages his supportive family and financial independence have afforded him. He does have one tool, though, that anyone can use, living with disease or not.
Michael’s brand of optimism helps with the challenges that life presents. An ever-growing body of research links a great attitude to better long-term health outcomes. That outcome may be because optimism goes hand-in-hand with feeling empowered to shape one’s own destiny.
There are countless opportunities for us to be “like Mike” and make a difference in the search for a cure for Parkinson’s. Things like participating in research studies—I’m doing this myself as a control volunteer in our Foundation’s landmark study seeking biomarkers of Parkinson’s—spitting in a tube to help scientists translate basic genetic findings into practical treatments, or even filling out surveys and contributing data about everyday living that can help researchers understand the true nature of disease. Some of these are things only patients can do; some are also open to those of us who live alongside patients, worrying about them, caring for them, and feeling we can never do enough to help bring a cure faster.
Regardless of how you choose to get involved, never doubt that your contribution is vital and meaningful.
Read more from me on this topic in an op-ed on The Daily Beast.