The ‘Back to the Future’ actor opens up about his ‘darkest moment’ in 2018 when he struggled through a series of health issues including a tumor on his spine.
Actor Michael J. Fox suffered the “darkest moment” of his life in 2018 after breaking his arm as he learned to walk again following secret spinal surgery.
The “Back to the Future” star, who went public with his battle with Parkinson’s Disease in 1998, reveals he began experiencing intense pain just two years ago, and doctors quickly discovered a noncancerous mass had been growing on his spine – threatening his mobility.
“I was heading for paralysis if I didn’t get it operated on,” he told People.com. “(The tumour) was constricting the (spinal) cord, so they had to be very careful in removing it so they wouldn’t do further damage.”
Fox, who is known for his optimism, underwent successful surgery, and spent the next four months in rehab to get back on his feet, but his recovery took a turn for the worse after cutting short a family vacation in Massachusetts’ Martha’s Vineyard to prepare for a cameo in a movie Spike Lee was producing, 2019 sci-fi film “See You Yesterday“.
He returned to their New York home alone, but on the day of the shoot, the 59 year old fell and broke his arm – an accident which led to his “darkest moment.”
“I just snapped,” he said. “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.’ ”
“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. I thought, ‘How can I tell these people, ‘Chin up. Look at the bright side. Things are going to be great?’ ”
However, in a bid to regain his formerly positive outlook, Fox started watching TV reruns as he recovered in bed – particularly game shows from the 1970s.
Reflecting on how doing so turned things around for him, the screen star explained, “Optimism is really rooted in gratitude.
“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.”
“It’s not that I wasn’t sincere before,” he added, “but my gratitude is deeper now, from having gotten through the darkest times.”