At the young age of 29, Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The retired actor, now 61, has been living with the disease for more than half of his life. Even with support from a loving family, it took Fox some time to figure out that his disease isn’t just about him.
The award-winning actor has been through many ups and downs since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in his 20s. The Back to the Future star recently opened up to People about his journey with Parkinson’s. He also shared what he finally figured out about how his family helps him as he lives with the disease.
‘It Wasn’t Just About Me’
The road that Fox has traveled with Parkinson’s has been shared with his wife, actress Tracy Pollan. The two met on the set of Family Ties in 1985, when Pollan played Fox’s TV girlfriend.
The two later became a couple and were married in 1988. Together, they eventually had four children: son Sam, 33; twin daughters Aquinnah and Schuyler, 27; and daughter Esmé, 21.
Although the couple has been together for 34 years, the retired actor didn’t realize at first just how much his disease impacted his family. “It took me a while to get that it wasn’t just about me,” said Fox.
In the past year, the Teen Wolf actor has really taken that sentiment to heart. He’s dealt with a number of injuries, including a broken cheek, hand, shoulder, and arm. Due to his health and injuries, Fox has reconsidered how his recovery and ailments affect his family.
“If I break my arm, I’m dealing with my broken arm. But if you’re the person who lives with and loves and supports the person with the broken arm, you’ve got to do everything,” reflected the retired actor.
‘It Is All About Acceptance’
The support from his family is also evident in the family’s motto. “We assume the best,” Pollan remarked. As she and the rest of his family have stayed by Fox’s side through his journey with Parkinson’s, they always try to give one another the benefit of the doubt. They also try to place themselves in the other’s shoes.
For Pollan, this means that if Fox is being short with her, “My first assumption is not that he’s not being unkind to me. It’s that something else was going on,” reflected the actress.
“And he does the same [with] me. It’s assuming the best from the person you live with until you are actually presented with the worst. And same with our parenting: It’s also how we are with our kids.”
“It is all about acceptance,” Fox added. “My best life now is I enjoy my family so much. Tracy and the kids are amazing. I know that sounds boring, it sounds like a fairy tale, but we’ve been married thirtysomething years, so we’ve got something figured out.”