The tragic news of one the entertainment industries most awarded actors revealed heartbreaking news on July 31st, 2018 on CBS This Morning.
Alan Alda, best known for his role as Army Captain "Hawkeye" Pierce the famous comedy television series, M*A*S*H, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. After being welcomed on CBS This Morning as an esteemed guest, Alan immediately shared his diagnosis.
His reason for announcing his diagnosis publicly was fully admirable; Alan said, “I could see my thumb twitch and I thought, ‘It’s probably only a matter of time before someone does a story about this from a sad point of view but that’s not where I am.”
The hosts of CBS This Morning were stunned to hear the news but they were even more stunned at what came out of Alan’s mouth next. Alan shared that he was diagnosed more than three years ago but has kept it private since.
The 82-year-old went on to say that prior to being diagnosed, he read a piece in the New York Times that revealed that one of the early signs of Parkinson’s disease was “acting out dreams,” to which he recalled just weeks before he was having dreams of being attacked before throwing his pillow at his wife.
Alan shared his refreshing perspective with the co-hosts, "In the very beginning, to be immobilized by fear and think the worst thing has happened to you – it hasn't happened to you. You still have things you can do," Alda said. "I'm taking boxing lessons three times a week. I do singles tennis a couple of times a week. I march to Sousa music because marching to music is good for Parkinson's."
While the hosts listed in awe, Alan continued, “I’m not angry.” Rather than taking the sad and mourning perspective, Alan chose to remain in joyful and grateful spirits.
Alan continued, "I've had a full life since then," he said. "I've acted, I've given talks, I help at the Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook. I started this new podcast. And I noticed that – I had been on television a lot in the last couple of weeks talking about the new podcast – and 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, but that's not where I am.”
Despite the tragic reality of Parkinson’s, Alan chose to share his diagnosis in hopes that transparency would put his mind at ease. While he’s been naturally positive, the sad reality can sink in and he’d rather “not worry.”
He heroically shared, “I’m not going to worry. While I'm trying to say something else, I'm not going to be thinking, is my thumb on a life of its own. You know, that's just one of the realities of my life. But I've acted in movies since – it's three-and-a-half years since I had the diagnosis and it hasn't stopped my life at all. I've had a richer life than I've had up until now."
Please keep Alan and his family in your prayers Parkinson’s can be an especially difficult disease to witness and experience. If you or anyone you know has Parkinson’s please share this story to remind them they are not alone. We are lifting Alan and his family up in prayers.