Retired actor Michael J. Fox is coming to terms with how difficult his more than 30-year battle with Parkinson’s disease has become, telling CBS Sunday Morning‘s Jane Pauley that it is just a matter of time before the illness will claim the life of the 61-year-old.
“Yeah, it’s banging on the door,” Fox says. “I’m not going to be 80.”
The star of the wildly popular 1980s TV series Family Ties and the late 80s Back to the Future sci-fi/comedy film trilogy says surgery in 2018 to remove a benign tumor on his spine has led to a series of falls that have broken bones in his arm, elbow, face and hand. Fox says the main cause of death from Parkinson’s disease is falling and aspirating food, which leads to pneumonia. Parkinson’s usually first appears in those over the age of 60.
Diagnosed with the degenerative brain disorder in 1991 at the age of 29 and going public with it seven years later, Fox has become a leading advocate for Parkinson’s research. The Michael J. Fox Foundation has raised more than $1 billion dollars since its inception in 2000, becoming the world’s largest non-profit funder of studies to fight the disease. Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include tremors, limb stiffness, gait-and-balance problems, slowness of movement and sleep disorders.
In November 2022, Fox received an honorary Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, for his advocacy work.
Fox’s full interview with Jane Pauley will air on CBS Sunday Morning at 9am ET/6am PT.