Michael J. Fox on serious health issues that tested his optimism

The iconic actor has spent over half his life with Parkinson’s disease. Two years ago, he learned about a tumor in his spine and made the harrowing decision to have surgery and learn to walk again.
4:48 | 11/17/20

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Transcript for Michael J. Fox on serious health issues that tested his optimism
from "Family ties." How do I look? Middle aged. To Marty McFly. Hey, I need to borrow your hover board. Michael J fox has been part of our lives his entire career. Are you telling me that you built a time machine out of a delorean? Now the iconic actor is out with a new memoire, no time like the future. An optimist considers mortality. You may be America's biggest optimist, but I read the book and I felt it was like the testing of an optimist. Yeah, it washing like a crucible that I went through in an unlikely way. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's and his humor helps him deal with the disease. Everyone knows I have it, and I have had it for -- More than half your life. More than half my life. I was diagnosed at 29, and I'm 59. It takes up space and it left me do other things like drive and golf and have friendships and travel. Two years ago a health crisis threatened to leave him paralyzed. I had a tumor on my spine. I remember when you had learned about the tumor and you had to make a choice. But it was not a choice. They said I could keep it from progressing so I had the surgery and it's been difficult. It's difficult on to move, I can't, I can't golf like I used to. Which is terrible. And I can't -- You are always a money player though. You always hit it off the first tee. I don't know who it was that said, any jerk can hit the second shot. And you write about feeling after that surgery, harrowing surgery, feeling a responsibility to the doctors and those that cared for see how much they put in to it. It's not just a job. It's a calling. You know, six is or seven hours and you know, there's no booth -- no bathroom breaks. He is in my spine, spinal cord nor hours and hours. They say, don't fall,ou could do damage, and you don't go do damage to me, he did the master piece on my back and I'm not going to wreck it for him. He began physical therapy to walk again. One step after the other, heel, transfer weight, the mechanics of it. I wrote about it in the book about my son's first steps and um, he is now 31. And we would send him across the room and Tracy would be on the other side of the room and he would navigate around the furniture and surf along the coffee table and he would speed up and his footsteps would go quick and he'd fall in to Tracy's arms and I said, the same thing happens now, only me. The worst scene pea -- scene behind him. He returned from a vacation to star in a spike Lee movie. I spent the first time alone the surgery. I hit a tile and went down and shattered my arm. So I found myself underneath the phone waiting for the ambulance to come. Lying on the floor with my broken arm and of all things, that was the thing that really set me off. That's bottom. That was bottom. Because it was so useless and pointless and stupid and avoidable and everything that I had happened, I cannot say that I did not cause parkinsons, the tumor in my spine. But I did this. How can you blame yourself for that? Everyone is being careful with me. I have to think before I walk. I can't just get up and go, I don't always control my direction and momentum. My daughter Skyler came back with me from vacation because had he had though go to work. But she offered to take over and get me breakfast in the morning and I said no, I had will be fine. Don't worry. Don't worry. And next thing, she hears I'm in the hospital with my arm. The road to the recovery for broken arm and crushed optimism was tough.but fox eventually came out the other side remembering the words of his father-in-law. He would say, gets better kiddo, gets better. The last thing you run out of is the future. And he is, so he lived every day with gratitude and I realized, there's gratitude and then, you can sustain optimism.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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