'my secret' | 

Michael J. Fox lived ‘seven years of denial’ before revealing his Parkinson’s diagnosis

The Back to the Future star was awarded an honorary Oscar last night, saying “there was nothing heroic” about his efforts to eliminate the disease.

Michael J. Fox with his wife Tracy Pollan. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)© Getty Images

Michael J. Fox accepts the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award during the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 13th Governors Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on November 19, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)© Getty Images

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Micheal J. Fox has admitted he kept his Parkinson’s disease a secret for years to avoid facing “the uncertainty” of what his life would look like.

The Back to the Future star was awarded an honorary Oscar last night to celebrate his contribution to researching the disease.

He opened up about his own experience with Parkinson’s while accepting the award and confessed it was hidden for years.

"I was told I only had 10 years left to work. That was s***. That’s what happened,” he said.

"The hardest part of my diagnosis was grappling with the uncertainty of the diagnosis and the uncertainty of the situation.

"I only knew it would get worse. The diagnosis was definite, the progress was indefinite and uncertain,” he said.

Fox has been married to his wife Tracy Pollan (62) since 1988, sharing four children: Sam Michael (33), twins Aquinnah Kathleen and Schuyler Frances (27) and Esmé Annabelle.

Michael J. Fox accepts the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award during the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 13th Governors Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on November 19, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)© Getty Images

From the moment of his diagnosis, he was reassured by Tracy that she was in it for the long haul.

"She made it clear that she was with me for the duration. But my young son, Sam, didn't know. He didn't have a choice,” the actor said.

"Then I entered into seven years of denial, trying to make sense of it all. The kid who left Canada convinced that he would make anything happen, at least by working hard and by believing, now had a tall order in front of him,” the actor said.

"I told very few people, and they kept my secret.”

Best known for his role of Marty McFly in the iconic Back to the Future franchise, Fox revealed it was through consultations with doctors that he was able to better understand the disease and realise he would need to make his diagnosis public.

"Finally, I felt like I needed to tell everybody. I understood it would have a huge impact on my career.”

"The outpouring of support from the public at large, the beautiful reaction from all of my peers in the entertainment business, all of you, thank you, and the people that I worked with, was transformative.

"Then I reached out to the Parkinson's community itself. Patients, families and doctors, leading scientists in the field. And it struck me that everything I'd been given, success, my life with Tracy, my family, had prepared me for this profound opportunity and responsibility.”

The actor has since raised over $1.5 billion with his charity the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

"There was nothing heroic about what I did,” he said.

"I am so grateful to all these people and thousands more who will make a world without Parkinson's a reality.”

"It's humbling in the deepest way to stand here today and accept your kindness and approbation when truly the effort is being driven by others so deserving of this attention."

Fox was congratulated by Hollywood star Woody Harrellson as he accepted the Academy Awards’ Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

It is an award given to ”an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.”


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