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Thursday, 30 September, 1999, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
Fox pleads for Parkinson's funding
Fox appearing at Congress on Tuesday
Actor Michael J Fox - who is suffering from Parkinson's Disease - has told the US Senate there is an urgent need to increase funding for research into the condition.

Fox, who last year revealed he had been suffering from Parkinson's since 1981, joined other campaigners to plead for more money to help research into possible cures.

The 38-year-old told a Senate committee that fear and denial of his illness had made him "quietly soldier on" without making his condition public.

When he did speak out, he said the response was "overwhelming, humbling, and deeply inspiring".

He said: "I heard from thousands of Americans affected by Parkinson's writing and calling in to offer their encouragement and to tell me of their experience.

Fox revealed his condition last year
"They spoke of pain, frustration, fear and hope - always hope. The war against Parkinson's is a winnable war and I have resolved to play a part in that victory."

He trembled as he spoke, explaining that he was waiting for medicines to take effect.

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disease of the nervous system that generally affects both men and women who are more than 40 years old. However, like Fox, 10% of sufferers are believed to be under 40.

The disease develops slowly over time and is associated with trembling of the limbs, stiffness of the muscles and slowness of movement.

Fox, who made his name in the Back To The Future films, said he could still work with the help of daily medication and "selective exertion". He currently stars in the sitcom Spin City.

Early days: Starring in Back To The Future
He added: "I don't kid myself that will change. Physical and mental exhaustion will become more and more of a factor as will increased rigidity, tremor and dyskinesia [involuntary movement].

I can expect in my 40s to face challenges most won't expect until their 70s or 80s, if ever."

Fox wants to see an extra $75m spent on research, on top of $100m allocated by Congress to studying Parkinson's two years ago.

He said; "With your help, if we do everything we can to eradicate this disease, in my 50s I will be dancing at my children's weddings. And mine will be one of millions of happy stories."

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Video
Click here to see Michael J Fox speaking
See also:

12 Apr 99 | Health
The origins of the shaking palsy
26 Nov 98 | Medical notes
Parkinson's Disease
04 Dec 98 | Entertainment
Fox defiant about disease
26 Nov 98 | Entertainment
Star reveals fight against Parkinson's
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