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Rep. Jennifer Wexton Announces Rare Neurological Disorder Diagnosis

Rep. Jennifer Wexton Announces Rare Neurological Disorder Diagnosis


Representative Jennifer Wexton, Democrat of Virginia, announced on Monday that she would not seek re-election next year after receiving a diagnosis of a rare neurological disorder.

Ms. Wexton, who represents a competitive district in the Virginia suburbs west of Washington, D.C., revealed in a statement that she has progressive supranuclear palsy, which she described in a statement as “Parkinson’s on steroids.”

“I’m heartbroken to have to give up something I have loved after so many years of serving my community,” Ms. Wexton said.

Ms. Wexton was elected to represent Virginia’s 10th Congressional District in 2018, defeating a two-term Republican incumbent, Barbara Comstock, by 12 percentage points.

In April, Ms. Wexton announced that she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, saying at the time that it would not stop her from continuing to live her life, or pursuing her political career.

“I’m doing well, and I want to bring about as much good from this diagnosis as I can — including here in Congress,” Ms. Wexton wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

However, she wrote in her statement on Monday that she had noticed that people in her Parkinson’s support group weren’t having the same experience she was, and that she wasn’t making as much progress as she had hoped. She sought out other medical opinions and testing, which she said had led to her new diagnosis.

Progressive supranuclear palsy is caused by damage to nerve cells in areas of the brain that control thinking and body movements. It affects walking and balance, as well as eye movement, and it progresses more rapidly than Parkinson’s. There is currently no treatment that effectively stops or slows the disorder’s progression or symptoms, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Given the nature of the disorder, Ms. Wexton said she wanted to spend her “valued time” with her friends and loved ones, including her husband and two sons.

She said she planned to serve out the remainder of her term.

“While my time in Congress will soon come to a close,” Ms. Wexler said, “I’m just as confident and committed as ever to keep up the work that got me into this fight in the first place for my remaining time in office — to help build the future we want for our children.”


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