‘I’m going to die, which isn’t fair’: 55-year-old House Democrat will not seek re-election due to health prognosis

News & Politics

Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton of Virginia, 55, has announced that she will retire from Congress after serving her current term.

The lawmaker, who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since early 2019, announced earlier this year that she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. But later after the Parkinson’s diagnosis, the congresswoman was given a diagnosis of progressive supranuclear palsy, type-p.

“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,'” she said in a statement.

She noted that based on the prognosis, she does not plan to run for another term in office.

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“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,” Wexton explained. “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.”

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, there is no treatment to effectively halt or slow the progression of the disease.

“There is currently no treatment that effectively stops or slows the progression of PSP, and symptoms usually do not respond well to medications,” NINDS noted. “The disease usually worsens rapidly and most people with PSP develop severe disability within three to five years of symptom onset. PSP can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, choking, or head injuries from falls.”

“It’s not okay. It’s not okay at all. … I’m going to die, which isn’t fair,” Wexton said, according to the Washington Post.

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