Photo: Singer, Songwriter and Actor Neil Diamond. Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
On Jan. 22, 2018, Neil Diamond announced his shocking and heartbreaking diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, which prompted him to cancel the rest of his 50th anniversary tour in Australia and New Zealand.
According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year. While both men and women can be diagnosed with the disease at any age, most cases are in men who are 50 years old and above.
This neurodegenerative disease also affects anyone regardless of status and origin. Apart from Neil Diamond, other celebrities who live with Parkinson's disease are Michael J. Fox, Linda Ronstadt, Jesse Jackson, and the late Muhammad Ali.
Neil Diamond is a well-known singer and songwriter, who has been in a number of films and has even written for a few television shows. As a global superstar with a stage presence unlike any other performer, Diamond is described to also have a voice that is just as smooth as silk and flawless. He has had multiple No. 1 hits on the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts, which include "Sweet Caroline", “ America", "Desiree", "Cracklin' Rosie", "Heartlight", "If You Know What I Mean”, “I’ve Been This Way Before", "Longfellow Serenade", "Song Sung Blue", "Yesterday's Songs", and "You Don't Bring Me Flowers."
Not only is he an acclaimed singer/songwriter, he also starred in films like Shirley Bassey at the BBC, Neil Diamond: Radio 2 Electric Prom, Keeping Up with the Steins, Lost & Found, The Jazz Singer, and Mannix. Diamond also wrote for TV shows like MenT, The Wright Stuff, and many more.
When news broke that he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he left many fans sad and disheartened, especially when his tour was also cancelled. He is considered in the music industry as one of the world’s greatest live performers, a musical legend. The singer-songwriter was scheduled for an Australian and New Zealand tour as part of his 50th anniversary celebration, which would have been the 3rd leg of his anniversary tour.
He was anticipated to perform in two huge outdoor stadium shows in March and April 2018. A list of his itinerary posted on his official website showed that he should be in Adelaide, Brisbane, Hunter Valley, Melbourne, Perth, Queensland, Sydney, Townsville, and Victoria.
According to his publicist, because of the onset of Parkinson’s disease, Neil Diamond is now facing difficulty in performing with a big crowd, pushing the singer to cancel all his scheduled shows. The disease, being characterized by involuntary shaking of the muscles, slowness of muscle movement, rigidity, as well as difficulty in walking, will give anyone a hard time moving, let alone performing.
Following his doctor’s advice, Neil Diamond, 77, had to cancel his tour. However, though he may not be performing any more, he still promised fans that he would continue writing and recording for certain projects in the future. Having written many songs and TV shows already, he plans to remain active in this area of his career.
Some of the TV shows he has worked with recently are The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Wizard of Lies, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return, Tu Cara Me Suena, and Mike & Mike.
The good thing about Diamond is that during this crisis, he still has remained positive and thankful. He is so grateful for his loyal supporters and fans, who have fully and constantly supported him throughout his career.
His fans' positive and warm gesture
Fans responded so positively to Neil Diamond’s announcement that many actually donated the refunded money from his concerts to research towards Parkinson's disease. Neil Diamond took to Twitter after this inspiring gesture, thanking everyone for their outpouring love and support.
His wife also tweeted because of the overwhelming sudden turn of events, mentioning that her heart was so full of joy because of the support. She even added that her faith in humanity has been restored because of this.
Not only were the ticket funds donated by fans to Parkinson's research, fans also donated to other charities and animal rescue.
Celebrities who were struck by Parkinson’s disease
Neil Diamond is not the first celebrity to be struck by Parkinson’s disease. In fact, there are quite a few who went public when they got the disease. Some even joined fundraising events to help bring awareness to the disease. These celebrities are as follows:
- Michael J. Fox: One of the most popular celebrities struck by the disease is Michael J. Fox. He announced his diagnosis in 1998 and later founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
- Muhammad Ali: In 1984, the legendary boxer was diagnosed with the disease. He helped establish the Muhammad Ali Parkinson's Center and a National Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence in Phoenix.
- Linda Ronstadt: The lead singer of the band the Stone Poneys was also diagnosed with the disease and has not recovered ever since. She admitted that the disease took her ability to sing as well.
- Bob Hoskins: The award-winning British actor was forced to retire in 2012 because of the disease. In 2014, he passed away because of pneumonia.
- Brian Grant: At the age of 36, he was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease forcing him to retire from the National Basketball Association. To raise awareness of the disease, he founded the Brian Grant Foundation
- Freddie Roach: Diagnosed in 2010, Freddie Roach never allowed the disease to slow him down. In fact, he still works as a professional boxing coach for Manny Pacquiao, even after his symptoms were more severe.
- Ben Petrick: A baseball player who played in 240 major league games was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2000. He has written a book entitled, ”Forty Thousand to One,” telling his experience about the disease and how he has battled with it.
How can Parkinson’s disease be treated?
Even though a cure has yet to be found for the disease, patients can still choose from the list of medical treatment or alternative medicine available. Also, this is one way of improving the quality of life of an individual who suffers from Parkinson’s disease like Neil Diamond, but there are also some lifestyle changes that patients should make, like being more active and eating healthier Some of the known treatments are as follows:
- Medications: Levodopa and carbidopa are two of the widely known drugs to help increase dopamine levels in the brain. The disease disables the body from producing enough dopamine, which affects muscle movement later on.
- Surgery: DBS or Deep Brain Stimulation is a common surgical treatment for Parkinson’s disease patients. The surgery aims to implant a neurostimulator, a medical device that targets some parts of the brain to help manage the symptoms of the disease.
- Physical Therapy: To help the body regain balance, mobility, and motor functions, physical therapy is required. The goal is to loosen the muscles that have stiffened because of the disease.
According to the University Of Maryland Medical Center, the disease is not fatal. Neil Diamond, as well as other sufferers of the disease, can still live a full life, but the only challenge is how to manage the symptoms in order to live comfortably despite the disease.