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Jesse Jackson reveals Parkinson’s disease diagnosis

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — The Rev. Jesse Jackson revealed on Friday his battle with Parkinson’s disease.

In a letter to supporters, Jackson, 76, said he found it “increasingly difficult to perform routine tasks,” a change the civil rights activist said he and his family began to notice about three years ago.

“Recognition of the effects of this disease on me has been painful, and I have been slow to grasp the gravity of it,” he wrote. “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.”

Jackson said the chronic neurological disorder “bested” his father, Noah Lewis Robinson, who died in 1997 of a heart attack and complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a motor system disorder and the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells, according to the National Institute of Health. Patients who suffer from the disease may have trouble walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks as the tremor symptoms become more pronounced.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but Jackson said his diagnosis is an “opportunity” to use his voice to help find one for the 7 to 10 million worldwide affected by it.

“I will continue to try to instill hope in the hopeless, expand our democracy to the disenfranchised and free innocent prisoners around the world,” Jackson wrote, adding that he is working on a memoir.

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