WASHINGTON — Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., revealed Tuesday that she has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which she said has mainly been affecting her speech in recent months.
In a video message shared on social media on World Parkinson's Day, the 54-year-old said she's "doing well" and has a "positive attitude."
"A diagnosis of PD is often misunderstood, so I’d like to tell you what it actually is. PD is a movement disorder. It starts in the brain, and affects people’s bodies in different ways," Wexton said of the neurological disease. "Over the past few months, it has primarily affected my speech and how my mouth moves. You may notice I speak more quickly now. It also has affected how I walk and keep my balance."
Wexton, who did not specify when she received the diagnosis, said Parkinson's is not untreatable and not a death sentence.
"So please! You are welcome to empathize, but don’t feel sorry for me," she said. "I’m working with my doctor on a treatment plan that addresses my symptoms."
The Virginia lawmaker said she's been focused on legislation, voting on Capitol Hill and traveling around her district meeting with her constituents.
Wexton said she's generally a private person when it comes to personal issues, but she wants to use her platform as a public figure to bring awareness to the disease.
"I want to use my platform to be a voice for those struggling with Parkinson’s, and fight to help bring greater resources to the search for a cure," she said.
Wexton has served in Congress since 2019 representing Virginia's 10th Congressional District, which covers parts of northern Virginia. She previously served in the Virginia state Senate from 2014 to 2019.