The Hollywood star Michael J. Fox, best known for his work in television shows like “Family Ties” and in the Back To The Future movie franchise, has spent decades battling Parkinson’s disease. That’s why it came as a surprise to many when Fox revealed that his lowest moment in his life came only recently when he was battling a totally unrelated health issue.
Back in 2018, Fox underwent a risky spinal cord surgery to remove a noncancerous tumor.
“I was heading for paralysis if I didn’t get it operated on,” Fox, 59, told People Magazine, adding that he had to then learn to walk again.
A few months later, Fox was alone in the apartment he shares with his family in New York City when he fell and shattered his arm.
“That was definitely my darkest moment,” he explained. “I just snapped. I was leaning against the wall in my kitchen, waiting for the ambulance to come, and I felt like, ‘This is as low as it gets for me.’ It was when I questioned everything. Like, ‘I can’t put a shiny face on this. There’s no bright side to this, no upside. This is just all regret and pain.’“
Fox is known for his positive attitude, but in this moment, he questioned his unwavering optimism.
“Parkinson’s, my back, my arm … it still didn’t add up to moving the needle on the misery index compared to what some people go through,” he said. “I thought, ‘How can I tell these people, “Chin up. Look at the bright side. Things are going to be great”?’
Fox went on to say that he managed to regain his positive attitude as he recovered at home watching game shows from the 1970s.
“Optimism is really rooted in gratitude,” he explained. “Optimism is sustainable when you keep coming back to gratitude, and what follows from that is acceptance. Accepting that this thing has happened, and you accept it for what it is. It doesn’t mean that you can’t endeavor to change.
“It doesn’t mean you have to accept it as a punishment or a penance, but just put it in its proper place,” Fox continued. “Then see how much the rest of your life you have to thrive in, and then you can move on.”
Fox has since recovered and is enjoying a quiet life with his wife Tracy Pollan and their four children, son Sam, 31, twins Aquinnah and Schuyler, 25, and daughter Esmé, 19.
“I’m actually having a really good time,” the actor said. “People don’t believe me, but I love life. I love being with my family. I love being with Tracy. I love that I don’t do a lot of useless stuff that I used to do, because I don’t have the energy or the time. I’m grateful that I went through a crucible there in my late 50s. I figured some of this crap out finally, and it didn’t haunt me into my 70s and 80s.”
You can find out more about Fox’s journey in his new memoir “No Time Like the Future,” which comes out on November 17.