Rep. Jennifer Wexton, 54, revealed Tuesday that she has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and that she intends to continue serving in Congress “for many years to come.”
Wexton, a Democratic representative from Virginia’s 11th Congressional District, said the disorder has primarily affected her speech.
“If there’s one thing that Democrats and Republicans can agree on, it’s that Parkinson’s disease sucks,” the representative said.
“You may notice I speak more quickly now. It also has affected how I walk and keep my balance,” she said.
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Wexton, who was first elected to Congress in 2018 when she defeated Republican Barbara Comstock, won re-election in 2022 over Hung Cao with 53% of the vote.
“I’m doing well,” Wexton said. “I’ve got a positive attitude, and I’ve got the strong support of so many family, friends and loved ones.”
“What Parkinson’s is not is an untreatable disease, a cognitive impairment, or a death sentence,” she continued. “So please! You are welcome to empathize, but don’t feel sorry for me. I’m working with my doctor on a treatment plan that addresses my symptoms. ”
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Parkinson’s has four main symptoms, a tremor, muscle stiffness, slow movements and balance difficulties, often leading to falls, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Some 90,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the United States each year, roughly a 50% increase from previous estimated incidence rates, according to a recent 2022 Parkinson’s Foundation-backed study.
Wexton insisted that she has been maintaining her legislative responsibilities, but said there will be ups and downs.
“The treatment process is one that requires time and commitment, so you’re going to see me have some good days and some days that are not so good,” 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.”
Most people with Parkinson’s develop it after age 60, according to the NIH, and men may be more at risk than women, research studies indicate.
Fox News’ Shiv Sudhakar and Melissa Rudy contributed to this report.
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