Alan Alda Shares Secret Parkinson's Disease Diagnosis

M*A*S*H star Alan Alda, who gained fame as Capt. "Hawkeye" Pierce on the popular comedy-drama, opened up about a recent health diagnosis during a TV appearance on Tuesday, July 31, 2018.

In an interview for CBS This Morning, Alda shared that he has Parkinson's disease. Noting that he's "doing great," Alda revealed, "You might be surprised to hear that. I haven't said in public until now that I've been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease."

Parkinson's disease is a "progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement," according to the Mayo Clinic. Common symptoms include tremors and speech changes, which often get worse over time. Though there are medications available to treat the symptoms of the disease, which has no known cause at this time, no cure currently exists for the disorder.

Noting that he was diagnosed with the disease three years earlier, Alda — who appeared positive and upbeat throughout his interview — said that he's had "a full life" since receiving the life-changing health news. "I've acted, I've given talks, I help at the Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook, I started this new podcast," he continued, referring to the podcast Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda.

But Alda, 82, realized that his body may start showing signs of the disease, and he didn't want someone else to put together the pieces and publish an article discussing Alda's diagnosis in a negative way. So, that's why he decided to make an announcement about his health on CBS This Morning. "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," Alda explained. "But that's not where I am."

Alda revealed that he'd asked his doctor to test him for Parkinson's disease, despite him not having any notable symptoms indicating that he'd have the disorder. Alda wanted to be proactive about his health, and, after reading an article that described how "acting out your dreams" could be a potential early indicator of the disease, he wanted to find out if he had it. "By acting out your dreams, I mean I was having a dream that someone was attacking me and I threw a sack of potatoes at them," Alda recounted, "but what I was really doing was throwing a pillow at my wife."

Continuing on, Alda said that he wants other people suffering from Parkinson's to realize that they can still lead normal lives, though they'll have to adapt to their circumstances. "The thing I want folks to know, and this is not to shortchange people who are suffering with really severe symptoms ... but, 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," he said. To combat the progression of the disease, Alda remains active, taking boxing lessons and playing singles tennis multiple times a weeks, in addition to marching to "Sousa music."

Ever the optimist, Alda told the CBS This Morning hosts, "You know how I look at it? It's like a puzzle to be solved. What do I have to adapt to to carry on a normal life?" He added, "And I enjoy solving puzzles. It's really fun."

We applaud Alda's apparent can-do attitude as he remains focused on his health, and we wish him the best.

Unfortunately Alda is not the only star to have recently opened up about a Parkinson's diagnosis. As Nicki Swift previously reported, in January 2018, "Sweet Caroline" singer Neil Diamond revealed that he'd been diagnosed with the disorder, simultaneously announcing his retirement from touring.

Back to the Future star Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1990, talked about his experience with the disease in a feature for CBS News on July 8, 2018. "It sucks, and I hate it. And I wish I wasn't in this situation," he shared, though, he noted, his celebrity did put him in a position to help fund research for the disorder.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation has raised over $800 million for Parkinson's research since its launch in 2000.