Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) announced Monday that she will not be seeking re-election after being diagnosed with a rare, fatal neurological disorder.
Wexton sat down with the Washington Post for an exclusive 90-minute interview Saturday (which was published Monday) and revealed that she has progressive supra nuclear palsy (PSP). During the interview, Wexton detailed the incredible suffering she was enduring.
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It’s hard for me to speak in a way that people can understand and that they want to listen to … I hate the way I sound now. I always have to think about slowing down and enunciating.
People I know know I’ve struggled for a long time. I’ll be able to relax and enjoy the time I have left and the time I have left in Congress.
At one point during the interview, Wexton turned to her chief of staff and longtime confidante, Abigail Carter, and tried to reassure her before revealing her real prognosis: certain death.
It’s okay. It’s not okay. It’s not okay at all … I’m going to die, which isn’t fair.
But then Wexton noticed her symptoms were not improving with medication and sought second and third opinions. In June, she received the real cause of her ailments.
She revealed to the Post that she asked her doctor if she could still run for re-election after being diagnosed with PSP. Her doctor replied, “why would you want to?”
Wexton wrote a text to the Post Saturday evening that this caused her thinking to change:
But what became clear was that not only would I not be able to handle the rigors of campaigning in a tough district (hours of daily call time! Campaign rallies! Trackers and attack ads!) even if I could it may have literally killed me. And my life is definitely too short for that!
Wexton also released a statement Monday to the public explaining her decision:
I’ve always believed that honesty is the most important value in public service, so I want to be honest with you now — this new diagnosis is a tough one. 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.”
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.
— Rep. Jennifer Wexton (@RepWexton) September 18, 2023