Rev. Jesse Jackson Announces He Has Parkinson's Disease

On Friday, Rev. Jesse Jackson, 76, announced he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in a statement that those who’ve ignored symptoms of their chronic illness may relate to.

At first, the civil rights leader said, he didn’t want to make time to figure out what was ailing him, noting that he and his family began noticing changes in his health three years ago. “For a while, I resisted interrupting my work to visit a doctor. But as my daily physical struggles intensified I could no longer ignore the symptoms, so I acquiesced.”

After a number of tests, doctors diagnosed Jackson with Parkinson’s disease, the same disease that “bested” his father.

Like many diagnosed with a degenerative chronic illness, Jackson said the “recognition of the effects of this disease [have] been painful” and that he has “been slow to grasp the gravity of it.”

Jackson added:

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 the disease’s progression.

I am far from alone. God continues to give me new opportunities to serve. 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.

Jackson is known for his participation in civil rights demonstrations along with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In 2000, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton for his work negotiating the release of three U.S. soldiers being held in Yugoslavia.

Image credit via Facebook.

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