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Michael J Fox explains why he kept Parkinson's diagnosis secret from fans for seven years

Poppy Bilderbeck

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Michael J Fox explains why he kept Parkinson's diagnosis secret from fans for seven years

Michael J Fox has opened up about his Parkinson's diagnosis and why he was reluctant to tell fans. You can watch it here:

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The Back to the Future star was first diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991 at the age of 29 years old.

The 61-year-old has since spoken out about why he didn't tell fans about his diagnosis until seven years later, in 1998.

Parkinson's disease is 'a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years,' the NHS explains.

"Most people with Parkinson's start to develop symptoms when they're over 50, although around one in 20 people with the condition first experience symptoms when they're under 40," the website continues.

Fox was subsequently the one in 20 who are diagnosed with the disease at a very young age.

In an interview with BBC Breakfast, Fox revealed why he decided to not tell fans about his diagnosis for seven years, only opening up about his Parkinson's in 1998.

Michael J Fox with Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future Part II, in 1989. Credit: MARKA / Alamy Stock Photo
Michael J Fox with Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future Part II, in 1989. Credit: MARKA / Alamy Stock Photo

The actor stated: "My fear was that if they knew I had an illness, a condition, that they wouldn't be able to laugh.

"You know it was a really strange period of time because over a period of seven years that I kept it to myself."

However, when Fox finally did open up to people about his condition, he discovered they were 'incredibly receptive' and 'incredibly supportive'.

The actor also discovered his fear of the audience not feeling able to laugh was quickly put at ease.

"The audience did, in fact, continue to laugh and continue to watch my work," he continued.

What's more, speaking out about his diagnosis also led to a 'whole opportunity' opening up.

Michael J Fox. Credit: SOPA Images Limited / Alamy Stock Photo
Michael J Fox. Credit: SOPA Images Limited / Alamy Stock Photo

"I started talking to scientists and they started telling me the science is ahead of the money. We know more than we can pay for. We understand more than we're getting. and i thought well, I can do that," Fox added.

The actor subsequently set up The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research in 2000, which he said has been 'an amazing thing'.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation 'is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson's disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson's today' and exists 'to accelerate the next generation of Parkinson’s disease (PD) treatments'.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, call the Parkinson's Foundation Helpline 1-800-4PD-INFO (1-800-473-4636) for answers to your Parkinson’s disease (PD) questions. The Parkinson's Foundation Helpline is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Or email on [email protected]

Featured Image Credit: Erik Pendzich / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Health, TV and Film, US News

Poppy Bilderbeck
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