Michael J. Fox is no stranger to challenges, having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was just 29-years-old, but there’s another time in his life that the actor says was his “darkest moment”.
Speaking to People recently, the 59-year-old revealed he suffered an unrelated health setback two years ago that had a huge impact on his life and took away some of the optimism that has helped him through living with Parkinson’s. Fox revealed that in 2018 he had a non-cancerous tumour on his spine that could have left him unable to walk.
He added that the surgery to remove the tumour was “risky” as it was constricting his spinal cord. Ultimately, if they left the tumour alone it could have led to paralysis, but removing it could have caused further damage.
Fox took the risk and went through with the surgery, which thankfully was successful, but it wasn’t easy. The actor had to learn how to walk again and just when he thought the challenge was over, he suffered a fall and broke his arm.
“That was definitely my darkest moment,” he told People. “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 said this event drained his optimism and he was left asking himself how he would help others go through their challenges, when he was finding it so difficult to get through his own. But, the incredibly brave actor pulled through, watching television reruns of his favourite shows to help boost his mood as he recovered from his injury. He regained his positive perspective again and found the strength within to go on.
“Optimism is really rooted in gratitude,” he told People. “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 endeavour 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. Then see how much the rest of your life you have to thrive in, and then you can move on.”
Incredibly, despite these many challenges Fox said he loves life and is making the most of the time with his wife and children. He added: “I’m grateful that I went through a crucible there in my late 50s. I figured some of this c**p out finally, and it didn’t haunt me into my 70s and 80s.”