Michael J. Fox Stunned After Learning Robin Williams Suffered From Parkinson’s Disease

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By Anne Lu | August 15, 2014 11:36 AM EST

Michael J. Fox was stunned to learn that recently deceased comedian Robin Williams had Parkinson’s Disease. William’s widow Susan Schneider has released a statement about the Academy Award winner’s state of health before his death on August 11.

In a statement released on Thursday, Schneider has debunked rampant speculations that her husband has suffered from alcohol relapse days shortly before he took his own life in their California residence.

She said that apart from suffering from depression and anxiety, Williams was also diagnosed with early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, but he wasn’t ready yet to disclose his condition in public.

Schneider’s full statement reads:

“Robin spent so much of his life helping others. Whether he was entertaining millions on stage, film or television, our troops on the frontlines, or comforting a sick child – Robin wanted us to laugh and to feel less afraid.

“Since his passing, all of us who loved Robin have found some solace in the tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration for him from the millions of people whose lives he touched. His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles.

“Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.

“It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid.”

Fox, who was diagnosed with the motor system disorder in 1991, was surprised to learn that Williams was suffering from the same disease, revealing that the “Good Morning, Vietnam” star supported his foundation.

Parkinson’s Disease is a degenerative brain disorder that result from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Symptoms include uncontrollable trembling of the limbs, jaw and face; rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; slowness of movement; and impaired balance and coordination.

Patients may also suffer from depression and other emotional changes. However, according to Dr Cheryl Waters, a neurologist from the New York-Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Centre, the disease rarely leads depressed patients to commit suicide.

In the case of Williams, who is said to have had mood disorder, she surmised that it could be Williams struggled with the news of his diagnosis, but not with having Parkinson’s itself.

“He definitely wasn’t dealing with Parkinson’s in the early stages, as those with the disease can continue to function in a very meaningful way for a long time – years and decades. Because Williams still moved beautifully, he could have managed the disease for decades,” she wrote on the NY Daily News.

There is no cure for the disease at present, but there are various treatments that can provide sufferers relief from symptoms.

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(Photo: REUTERS / Marko Djurica)
A woman takes the photo of the large painting of late actor Robin Williams in Belgrade
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