“It’s like having a 4-year-old climbing on you all the time,” that’s how Michael J. Fox describes his nearly 18 year battle with Parkinson’s Disease, a neurological disorder that affects speech and mobility.
The 47-year-old actor will appear on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show airing Tuesday. The former Family Ties star was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991, and disclosed his condition to the public in 1998. As the symptoms of the disease worsened he semi-retired from acting in 2000.
“And, so whatever you’re trying to do, you’ve got this 4-year-old and you’re… just trying to be patient and focus on what you need to do,” he explains to The Queen of Talk.
Nonetheless, Michael tells Oprah that he refuses to allow his life to be ruled by the disease.
“I’m a dad, I’m a husband, I’m an activist, I’m a writer and I’m just a student of the world,” he says. “This is one fact of my life, but it’s not the totality of my life. It doesn’t define me.”