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Tipsheet

Democrat Rep Reveals Parkinson's Diagnosis

On Tuesday, Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), 54, announced that she has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. 

Wexton shared the announcement on World Parkinson’s Day on Twitter.

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“If there’s one thing that Democrats and Republicans can agree on, it’s that Parkinson’s disease sucks. Today, on World Parkinson’s Day, I’m here to tell you that I’ve come to learn this firsthand. And that’s because I’ve learned that I, too, have Parkinson’s, or what some people call PD for short,” Wexton said.“But I want you to know this: my head and my heart are 100% committed to serving the people of Virginia, and especially my constituents in the 10th Congressional District.”

Wexton assumed office representing Virginia’s 10th congressional district in 2019. She said in the video that in recent months, the disease has impacted her speech, noting that she speaks quicker than she used to. In addition, it has impacted her balance and the way she walks.

“What Parkinson’s is not is an untreatable disease, a cognitive impairment, or a death sentence. So please, you are welcome to empathize, but don’t feel sorry for me,” she said. “I’m working with my doctor on a treatment plan that addresses my symptoms. And I’ve been feeling good and staying strong. I’ve been focused on legislation, voting in Congress, traveling around my district, hosting constituent service events, and visiting with local businesses and schools – all just like normal.”

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“I’m not going to let Parkinson’s stop me from being me,” she continued. “I am confident that as I work with my doctor to get the treatment I need, I can continue being a working mom and an active member of our community.”

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, nearly 90,000 people are diagnosed with PD each year. It is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease behind Alzheimer’s.

In 2019, Democrat Rep. José Serrano (NY) announced simultaneously that he would retire from Congress and that he had Parkinson’s. 

“I’ve come to the realization that Parkinson’s will eventually take a toll and that I cannot predict its rate of advancement,” a statement shared with The New York Times said.

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