Award-winning actor Alan Alda has revealed that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. “I’m not angry,” he said.
“It hasn’t stopped my life at all. I’ve had a richer life than I’ve had up until now,” Alda said as he made the announcement Tuesday on CBS This Morning.
The actor, who had prominent roles in M*A*S*H and The West Wing, said he wanted to inform people of the diagnosis he received three and a half years ago so that they are aware there are things they can do if they find out they have the disease.
Alda also said that he decided to tell the public about his neurodegenerative disorder because during recent television appearances, “I could see my thumb twitch in some shots, and I thought it’s probably only a matter of time before somebody does a story about this from a sad … point of view.” He added: “That’s not where I am.”
Alda later posted a video of himself juggling, with the words, “If you get a diagnosis, keep moving!” He said he takes boxing lessons three times a week, plays tennis, and he marches to Sousa music.
He encouraged people who receive a Parkinson’s diagnosis not to be “immobilized by fear.”
He requested a test after he noticed that he had a symptom of the disease that he read about in The New York Times – he was acting out his dreams while he was asleep. Alda told CBS that he threw a pillow at his wife while he was dreaming about throwing a sack of potatoes at an attacker. The Times described this as “one of the strongest prediagnostic symptoms” for Parkinson’s.
When he was diagnosed, he said he had no other symptoms. He said that “if there’s anything I can do, I want to do it, before things start to show up.”
The actor also hosted Scientific American Frontiers on PBS for more than a decade.
Alda has continued to act since his diagnosis, and he’s not alone in Hollywood. For example, actor Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991 and has continued to act, including playing a character with Parkinson’s disease on The Michael J. Fox Show. He started The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, which says it has funded more than $800 million in research for a cure.
According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, symptoms include tremors and balance problems. “The cause remains largely unknown,” the foundation said, and “although there is no cure, treatment options vary and include medications and surgery.”
Some 930,000 people in the U.S. are expected to be living with Parkinson’s by 2020, according to a Parkinson’s Foundation study.