A native of Edmonton, Alberta, actor Michael J. Fox (1961-) has been fighting Parkinson's disease (PD) since 1981. "I keep making that point that I'm highly-functional," he said. "It's all good."
Billy Graham, Muhammad Ali, Johnny Cash, and Janet Reno have suffered with this deadly brain affliction. For Fox to have it so young is rare.
PD was first diagnosed in 1817 by English physician James Parkinson and is a degenerative nervous-system disease which leads to a shortage of the chemical dopamine. Dopamine controls movement.
Primary symptoms include muscular tremors, limited movement (Bradykinesia), and lack of balance and coordination. Scientists have not yet found the exact cause of the disease.
Fox can still ice-skate and ski, but the stress of network television compounded his symptoms, so he quit the hit television Spin City in 2000. "It takes 10 times more energy for me to walk across the room than it does for you," he explained to Newsweek.
His advocacy and honesty have made a difference, "almost like a moon shot," he described. The Parkinson's Action Network has been renamed the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
In his quest for a cure, the actor has spoken out in favor of stem cell research. "Embryonic stem cell research," he wrote to then-President George W. Bush, "transforms embryos already marked for destruction into potentially life-saving research. I can think of no better affirmation of the culture of life."
On his "steep ways to the stars," Fox said he will continue to fight and give hope to others. "It's not for effect, and it's not as a circus performer. It's for 1 million others with Parkinson's disease."
Keep moving toward the stars.