A few days after the apparent suicide of actor and comedian Robin Williams, his wife released a statement. Susan Schneider said that Williams was suffering from the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.
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.
So what is Parkinson’s disease?
According to the National Institutes of Health, it is a movement disorder, attacking the brain’s nerve cells. This disorder, a progressive disease, results in the trembling of the arms, hands, legs and face. Parkinson’s, which can only get worse as it continues, eventually results in coordination problems, trouble walking, slowness of movement or even doing simple chores.
There are other well-known celebrities who have Parkinson’s.
Among the most famous figures that have Parkinson’s is Michael J. Fox. Fox, who is known for his popular “Back to the Future” movies and the 1980s TV hit “Family Ties,” was diagnosed at the age of 30 (even though many people are diagnosed with the disease between the ages of 40 and 60 years old). He used his fame to raise awareness about the disease and get funds for research into treating and curing it. He later established the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Another famous celeb with the Parkinson’s is the famous boxer Muhammad Ali. Before his boxing career ended, Ali was battling with his changing mobility and shaking hands as a result of the disease. He later founded the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center Movement Disorders Clinic, which treats patients suffering from the disease and helps in spreading awareness about the disease.
Singer Linda Ronstadt is also battling the same disease. The singer, known as the lead singer for the sixties band Stone Poneys and prominent for her soprano vocals, lost her capacity to sing due to the condition.