Inspirational celebrities affected by Parkinson’s disease

Posted on Sep 25, 2013 | 0 comments

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celebrities affected by Parkinson’s disease

Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease doesn’t mean that your life is over. These inspirational celebrities have gone on to write books, record music, earn doctorates, and even negotiate with terrorists after their diagnosis.

When you face a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease you have two choices. You can let it get you down, or you can stick out your chin and decide that you’re not going to let it get in the way of living your life to the fullest.

Let’s face it: you’re going to have some bad days. Everybody does. But there’s no reason to make every day miserable, as you’ve got a long life ahead of you with plenty more opportunities to laugh, love, and enjoy the moment. Modern treatments mean that people with Parkinson’s disease have a normal life expectancy, and with the right health insurance quotes you can make sure that you get the treatment you need when you need it.

With Billy Connolly having recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, we take a look other celebrities who have suffered with the disease. Although they had to change their lifestyles to accommodate their new limits, they didn’t let Parkinson’s stop them from going out and making a difference: whether that was continuing their careers, or getting involved in international politics.

Muhammed Ali

When former world champion boxer Muhammed Ali retired in 1981, he had no idea that the real fight of his life was about to begin. In 1984 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Despite this life changing moment, he proved that it takes more than a diagnosis to keep a good man down. He participated as a guest referee at the first Wrestlemania event, launched the US Constitution’s 200th birthday celebrations, published an autobiography, and even met with Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War to negotiate the release of 15 American hostages. More than 20 years after his initial diagnosis he was still active in the public eye, taking a transatlantic flight to Ireland in 2009, and attending the London Olympic opening ceremony in 2012.

Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991, but kept it to himself until 1999 when he announced it to the public. Since then he has been working hard to find a cure, setting up a charity the Michael J. Fox Foundation which gained him an honorary doctorate in medicine from a Swedish university and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Justice Institute of British Columbia. In 2007 Time Magazine named him as one of the 100 people “whose power, talent, or moral example is transforming the world.” As well as being a vocal spokesperson for Parkinson’s research, Fox has also kept his creative side active: penning three books and taking on plenty of voiceover work. He has also made cameos in popular TV shows, with a particularly tear-jerking turn as a doctor with OCD in the sitcom Scrubs.

Johnny Cash

The Man in Black is considered to be one of the most influential musicians of the 20th Century. In 1997 he was diagnosed with a form of Parkinson’s disease, which meant he had to stop touring. It didn’t stop him from creating music. His response to the diagnosis involved writing and recording two sombre albums, American III: Solitary Man and American IV: The Man Comes Around.

He covered the song Hurt, which was far better received than the original Nine Inch Nails version. The video was considered to be his epitaph, and Time Magazine named it in their list of the 30 All-Time Best Music Videos. In the last four months of his life, Cash recorded a whopping 60 songs and performed a few surprise shows in Bristol, Virginia.

Charles M. Schulz

The artist behind the famous Peanuts comic strip didn’t let his form of Parkinson’s get in the way of creating some of the world’s best loved cartoon characters: Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

Although he complained in the ‘80s that “”sometimes my hand shakes so much I have to hold my wrist to draw”, Schulz didn’t retire from drawing until 1999. Even then, he retired reluctantly due to suffering several strokes and undergoing chemotherapy for his colon cancer. The comic strip ran for almost fifty years, and in that time Schulz only took one break: a five week trip to celebrate his 75th birthday in 1997. Now that’s dedication.

Robert Gordon (71 Posts)

Robert Gordon is the editor of, a health fanatic and avid Kayaker. He spends most of his time reading medical blogs and searching for new content to engage his readership.

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