Representative Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) announced on Monday that she will not seek another term after being diagnosed with "Parkinson's on steroids."
Wexton, who is 54-years-old, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in April but her doctors changed that diagnosis to Progressive Supra-nuclear Palsy.
Wexton explained, "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 Palsey — a kind of ‘Parkinson's on steroids.'"
Unfortunately, Wexton added that there is "no ‘getting better’ with PSP" and she will serve out the rest of her term before going into retirement.
Wexton said, "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 Health, Progressive Supra-nuclear Palsey is a "rare neurological disorder that affects body movements, walking and balance, and eye movements."
The NIH states, "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."
That means that Wexton may not have much time left and her decision to retire and spend the rest of her life with her friends and family is the right call.
Wexton has been serving as a Representative for Virginia's 10th congressional district since 2019 with her victory over Republican Representative Barbara Comstock.
Wexton then fended off a challenge from Republican candidate Hung Cao with 53% of the district's vote. Virginia's 10th district borders Washington D.C. and as such Democrats have a major advantage in holding it.
Democrats will likely be able to retain this seat but that doesn't make Wexton's terrible diagnosis any easier to handle.
Jennifer Wexton's responsible decision to not seek another term knowing that her mental faculties are declining should send a message to the rest of Congress.
Our congressional representatives need to be mentally fit and capable of representing the will of thousands of Americans. Politicians like President Joe Biden and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) should take notes.
Hopefully Wexton's disease is less serious than the diagnosis indicates and she will be able to enjoy her time with her family without her political career getting in the way.