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All About Choices
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Photo: Christopher Futcher
Born Canadian in 1961, Mike was part of a migratory family who eventually settled in a suburb of Vancouver. At the age of 15, he landed his first acting job playing a 10-year-old kid in a Canadian sit-com. (Mike was obviously short for his age).

He quit high school in his senior year and at the age of 18 journeyed to L.A. Initially, he was offered a few roles but the bit parts suddenly dried up. Mike sold every stick of furniture he owned to make ends meet, living on boxes of mac ‘n cheese.

Finally, in 1982 his big break came. While waiting at a pay phone outside the Pioneer Chicken in Hollywood, (Mike had no home phone), a major network contacted him. It was there he was offered the role that catapulted him to stardom – Alex Keaton on the T.V. series “Family Ties.”

From that point on, Michael J. Fox starred in a number of successful feature films including the “Back to the Future” series.

In 1991, while filming the movie “Doc Hollywood,” he was unable to stop the sudden twitching in his left, little finger. Later, while performing in the T.V. series “Spin City,” that left hand was often hid inside his pocket. But for seven years, Michael had been hiding much more than his trembling hand. Finally in 1998, he went public with his diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Perhaps his greatest acting role had been pretending, both on and off the set for seven years, that he was a man who didn’t have P.D.

Focus on Gains

In a recent article in Good Housekeeping magazine, Mike talks openly about his illness, marriage, family and life philosophy. He admits to the ongoing pain associated with the losses he has sustained due to P.D. – among them physical strength, balance, coordination and the ability to always be there for his family. Yet, his focus is not on the losses but on the gains. Michael contends that for everything this disease has robbed him of, something greater has been given.

You see, it’s all about choices. Someone once said It’s not what happens to us in life that matters most. It’s how we respond to what happens to us that really makes the difference.

Michael has chosen to respond to his illness in the following ways:

How can I help others who are suffering in a similar way? He answered that question by creating the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
  • Focus on the humor, rather than the drama. Mike, his wife and four kids laugh a lot!
  • Prioritize family. They spend a lot of time together and are affectionate.
  • Being grateful – appreciating what has been given and what is good about life in the here and now.
  • Looking to a Higher Power for survival.
Perhaps you are now facing a great difficulty in your life. Know that you are not powerless in the face of your struggles. Everyday, you have multiple opportunities to make choices that will determine your happiness and destiny.

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By Kathy Lewis. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.



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