On Friday, Jesse Jackson issued a statement through his Twitter account announcing that he has Parkinson’s Disease. According to the 76-year-old, he noticed changes in his health for some time, three years to be exact, but didn’t stop to see a doctor until symptoms intensified and could no longer be ignored.
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“After a battery of tests, my physicians identified the issue as Parkinson’s disease, a disease that bested my father,” he said. “Recognition of the effects of this disease on me has been painful, and I have been slow to grasp the gravity of it. For me, a Parkinson’s diagnosis is not a stop sign but rather a signal that I must make lifestyle changes and dedicate myself to physical therapy in hopes of slowing down the disease’s progression.”
There is no cure for the long-term degenerative disorder. Progression of symptoms can be different from person to person, but according to Parkinson.org, common experiences of people with Parkinson’s disease include tremors, a slowness of movements, issues with balance and walking and the rigidity of limbs. Stars like Michael J. Fox and the late Muhammad Ali have brought a great deal of attention to the disease over the years.
Jackson said that he plans to make certain lifestyle changes to deal with his diagnosis. Experts say a healthier, balanced diet can help with certain symptoms. And as for exercise, it can help with balance issues, flexibility and increase muscular strength, all useful in living a bit easier with Parkinson’s.
Despite the diagnosis, Jackson is relying on his faith (and family) and plans to not only continue working, but also to use his platform to increase awareness about PD.
“I am far from alone. God continues to give me new opportunities to serve,” he said. “This diagnosis is personal but it is more than that. It is an opportunity for me to use my voice to help in finding a cure for a disease that afflicts 7 to 10 million worldwide. Some 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every year.”
“I will continue to try to instill hope in the hopeless, expand our democracy to the disenfranchised and free innocent prisoners around the world,” he continued. “I’m also spending some time working on my memoir so I can share with others the lessons I have learned in my life of public service. I steadfastly affirm that I would rather wear out than rust out.”