Michael J. Fox, Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s
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Michael J. Fox

As Michael J. Fox Campaigns for Parkinson’s Awareness, Web Offers Wealth of Information

June 10, 2010
by Emily Coakley
Through a new book and television special, Michael J. Fox is raising awareness of Parkinson’s disease and life with the difficult condition. The Web has many resources to help people understand all aspects of Parkinson’s disease. Find some of the best links here.

Facing a Difficult Future

It took seven years for Michael J. Fox  to tell the world that he has Parkinson’s disease. In the 11 years since he announced his condition, Fox has formed a foundation that has contributed more than $140 million toward researching a cure for Parkinson’s.

At an event last year in San Francisco, he told a sold-out audience about the moment when he realized there were other opportunities available to him. It was while on a family vacation in Hawaii, swimming near a reef so he could see a rare sea turtle.

“He noticed an injury on the turtle’s flipper as it made its way around the reef and was struck, he said, by its ‘survivorhood,’” the San Francisco Chronicle described. Fox remarked, “I don’t know what kind of symbol the turtle was, but I knew there were places to go.”

Fox continues to act in guest appearances and he’s written two books. “Lucky Man” was published in 2002, and “Always Looking Up: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist” was released in March 2009.

When someone asked Fox if he might be in denial about his illness, he replied that optimism isn’t “Pollyannish.” 

“There can be tough optimism: an acceptance of obstacles, with a willingness to fight through them,” he said.

Parkinson’s Disease Resources

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is just one source on the Web for Parkinson’s disease information and support. Other sites offer a wealth of information on different aspects of Parkinson’s. Here are some of the best:

Diagnosing Parkinson’s disease is a matter of judgment, not testing, the University of Maryland Medical Center explains. MRI and CAT scans of the brain of a person with Parkinson’s would look the same as someone who didn’t have the disease. A neurologic exam, which includes a physical, medical history and observation, will help a doctor make the proper diagnosis.

Doctors will often ask loved ones about the patient, too. According to the medical center, “Parkinson’s disease is just one of several neurologic movement disorders that produce similar symptoms.” The site advises people to have a doctor who “has experience with all of the different disorders that can masquerade as Parkinson’s disease.”

Right now, there is no cure for Parkinson’s, though organizations like Fox’s are working hard to change that. There are, however, a variety of treatments available.

WebMD explains different ways to manage Parkinson’s, including medication, surgery and therapies. Another page, on exercise, offers some advice on the best ways to work out. The page “Parkinson’s and Diet” offers strategies for having a healthy diet and combating some of the more common medication side effects, such as nausea and dry mouth.

If a grandparent, parent or family friend has Parkinson’s, it can difficult to explain to a young child. KidsHealth, a site created by the Nemours Foundation, uses a story about a girl’s piano teacher to introduce the disease to young children. The article explains what the disease is, its symptoms and treatment, and offers advice to kids if they know someone with it.

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