Rare Disease Forces Democratic Rep. to Resign

AP Photo/Steve Helber

Just about everything today is political in one way or another. Still, when a story like this comes along, we’re reminded that we’re all human and nothing about any of our lives is guaranteed. Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton of Virginia announced today that she won’t seek re-election because she has been diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder.

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Progressive supranuclear palsy, also called Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome, is an uncommon brain disorder that causes serious problems with walking, balance, and eye movements, and later with swallowing. The disorder results from the deterioration of cells in areas of the brain that control body movement, coordination, thinking, and other important functions.

Progressive supranuclear palsy worsens over time and can lead to life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia and swallowing problems. There’s no cure for the disease, so treatment focuses on managing the signs and symptoms.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Wexton explained that her diagnosis changed from earlier assumptions that she was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. She said that upon receiving the news, she asked her doctor, “Can I still run for office?” He replied, “Why would you want to?”

In a text to the Post, she explained her change of heart: “But what became clear was that not only would I not be able to handle the rigors of campaigning in a tough district (hours of daily call time! Campaign rallies! Trackers and attack ads!) even if I could it may have literally killed me. And my life is definitely too short for that!”

She’s right. It’s a shame that Fetterman, Biden, Feinstein, Pelosi, and McConnell are all so power-hungry that they don’t know when to quit.

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Weston continued, “It’s hard for me to speak in a way that people can understand and that they want to listen to. I hate the way I sound now. I always have to think about slowing down and enunciating. People I know, know I’ve struggled for a long time. I’ll be able to relax and enjoy the time I have left and the time I have left in Congress.”

Related: ‘Do Not Come’ Does Not Work

In a public announcement on X, Wexton went into more detail about what has been happening to her:

When I shared with the world my diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease a few months ago, I knew that the road ahead would have its challenges, and I’ve worked hard to navigate those challenges through consistent treatments and therapies. But I wasn’t making the progress to manage my symptoms that I had hoped, and I noticed the women in my Parkinson’s support group weren’t having the same experience that I was. I sought out additional medical opinions and testing, and my doctors modified my diagnosis to Progressive Supra-nuclear Palsy- a kind of ‘Parkinson’s on steroids.’

I’ve always believed that honesty is the most important value in public service, so I want to be honest with you now – this new diagnosis is a tough one. There is no ‘getting better with PSP. I’ll continue treatment options to manage my symptoms, but they don’t work as well with my condition as they do for Parkinson’s.

I’m heartbroken to have to give up something I have loved after so many years of serving my community.

But taking into consideration the prognosis for my health over the coming years, I have made the decision not to seek reelection once my term is complete and instead spend my valued time with Andrew, our boys, and my friends and loved ones.

When I made the decision to run for Congress, this was clearly not the way I anticipated it coming to a close – but then again, pretty much nothing about my time serving here has quite been typical or as expected. …

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Abraham Lincoln once said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

Prayers for Rep. Jennifer Wexton.

 

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