US Politics: Congresswoman Opts to Serve in House Despite Brain Disorder, Skips Therapy



Virginia congresswoman, Jennifer Wexton, is battling progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a rare brain illness leading her to miss some of her therapy appointments and preventing her from seeking re-election in 2024. Diagnosed with PSP in September, the illness is life-threatening and typically has a life expectancy of six to nine years after diagnosis. Despite her condition, Wexton has continued to serve in her role, using text-to-voice technology to communicate, and has expressed a desire to continue her work until the end of her final term in Congress.

Virginia Congresswoman Wexton’s Struggle with Rare Brain Disorder

US Virginia Representative Jennifer Wexton continues to fulfill her political duties despite battling progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a rare brain disorder. Her busy schedule, however, has forced her to miss some crucial speech and physical therapy sessions, she shared with CBS News.

“I’m working harder than ever to serve,” Wexton expressed on social media following her PSP diagnosis in September. The Democrat aims to raise awareness about PSP and the need for a cure through sharing her experiences on platforms like X, formerly Twitter.

Due to her ailment, Wexton has had to forego seeking re-election in 2024. According to Cleveland Clinic, PSP has a typical life expectancy of six to nine years post-diagnosis.

Wexton, who seized her House seat in 2018 from a Republican incumbent, said she was heartbroken to relinquish her role. As per CBS, she has difficulty walking in the vast US Capitol complex and conversing due to her condition, likened to “Parkinson’s disease on steroids”.

PSP complications include eye problems and certain posture changes, says the National Institutes of Health. Despite these challenges, Wexton had to prioritize House duties over therapy sessions, given the Democrats are only eight seats short of a majority in the House.

With the House’s schedule becoming particularly chaotic following the ousting of Republican representative Kevin McCarthy as speaker in October, Wexton’s journey has been made more challenging. Even though the testing environment in the House strains her condition, she manages with text-to-voice technology and aid from her team.

Prior to the Thanksgiving recess, Wexton’s chief of staff, Abby Carter, informed House members of Wexton’s condition. The letter detailed the changes in Wexton and provided advice on interacting with her. Amid the hardship, Wexton remains committed to serving until the end of her term with support from her family, staff, and allies.

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