Thirty years ago, Michael J. Fox broke the news to his wife that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In his new book, No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality, Fox reflects on that emotional moment with his wife Tracy Pollan. The Back to the Future star discussed his new book and his wife’s reaction to his diagnosis in a new interview with Today.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” Fox told Today. “One of the things I’ll always love Tracy for is that at that moment, she didn’t blink.”
Fox and Pollan have been married for 32 years and have four children together. The couple first met on the set of the sitcom Family Ties, which they both starred in. Wiping away tears, a choked-up Fox continued to explain how grateful he is to have his partner face his disease with him every day.
“Well, Tracy’s amazing. She’s there in the front lines with me every single day…..And the other thing Tracy does is, if there’s something funny, let’s get to the funny. We’ll deal with the tragic later.”
Like Fox titled his book, he has always been an optimist, but his infamous optimism wavered tremendously in 2018 after he underwent spinal surgery to remove a tumor. After his surgery, he was forced to relearn how to walk — that’s when he faced one of the darkest moments of his life. Four months after his surgery, he suffered a fall that left him with a shattered arm and a broken spirit.
Of his accident, Fox recalled, “I was underneath the phone, against the kitchen wall, on the kitchen floor alone with a broken arm, waiting for the ambulance to show up. I couldn’t believe the amount of fury I had toward myself for being so careless to do this.”
Fox who has always tried to face his disease with optimism said after this accident he could no longer “put a shiny face on it” or make lemonade out of his situation. “In fact, I was out of the lemonade business. I just kind of felt more sorry for myself, and I’d never done that before. And I questioned my optimism.”
Now, two years after that incident, Fox is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Michael J. Fox Foundation — a research organization dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease.
Of his continued positive outlook in life, Fox said, “Optimism is a choice. But in a way, it isn’t. There’s no other choice. I don’t think there’s any other viable choice than to hope for the best and work toward it.”
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