Michael J. Fox talks about funding ground-breaking research for Parkinson’s disease

After more than three decades of living with Parkinson’s disease, actor Michael J. Fox has raised over $2 billion in awareness and research.

Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991 when he was just 29 years old. In 2000, he established the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Now 62, Fox has lived with Parkinson’s for more than half his life. The progressive brain disease can take away a person’s movements and speech. It has no known cure.

“We didn’t have money. We didn’t have a voice,” Fox said. “And I thought, well, I could step in for these people and raise hell.”

The money raised by Fox has led to ground-breaking research. Earlier this year, a landmark clinical study led by his foundation discovered a protein found in spinal fluid that can help detect Parkinson’s years before the first symptoms appear. It’s not a cure, Fox said, but it shows that researchers are “on the right track.”

“It’s a big focus on where we’re going and what we’re going to focus on,” Fox said.

Always in Fox’s corner is his wife, Tracy Pollan, whom he met on the set of “Family Ties” in 1985. For over three decades, she has been his biggest advocate, fan and partner, by his side every step of the way.

“She’s a great person and has been through a lot. It’s no small thing,” Fox said. “I didn’t know what to expect and neither did she. But she had indicated to me by saying, ‘For better or for worse and (in) sickness and in health,’ that she was going to hang on and get me through it , or go through it with me. And she’s been doing that for 30, 35 years.”

While Fox tries to maintain a positive attitude, he said sometimes the weight of his condition can be overwhelming.

“The positivity is really genuine. I really feel it and it’s real. But it’s hard-fought and it’s hard-won, I have to say,” Fox explained.

Instead of focusing on the negativity and fear, Fox said he keeps looking for a way forward even in the darkest moments.

“We can find ways to just give ourselves a break, give ourselves credit for getting through life on life’s terms,” ​​Fox said. “And to do that, you have to stop and say ‘It’s not that bad. It’s not that bad’. … They say the absence of fear is faith.”

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