The Rev. Jesse Jackson revealed in a statement on Friday that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease
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The Rev. Jesse Jackson revealed in a statement Friday that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

“My family and I began to notice changes about three years ago,” the 76-year-old civil rights activist wrote in a statement, according to CNN. “After a battery of tests, my physicians identified the issue as Parkinson’s disease, a disease that bested my father.”

“Recognition of the effects of this disease on me has been painful, and I have been slow to grasp the gravity of it,” added the two-time presidential candidate. “For me, a Parkinson’s diagnosis is not a stop sign but rather a signal that I must make lifestyle changes and dedicate myself to physical therapy in hopes of slowing the disease’s progression.”

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder with no cure. Symptoms include tremors, stiffness and difficulty balancing, walking and coordinating movement.

Jackson, who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in civil rights demonstrations and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Bill Clinton in 2000, said he believes his diagnosis will give him “new opportunities to serve.”

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“This diagnosis is personal but it is more than that. It is an opportunity for me to use my voice to help in finding a cure for a disease that afflicts 7 to 10 million worldwide,” Jackson said, noting that about 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every year.

Jackson was in the news recently after a journalist accused him of unwanted touching. Danielle Young, a writer and producer with The Root, alleged that when she met Jackson while working for an unidentified media company, “he reached out a hand and grabbed my thigh, saying, ‘I like all of that right there!’ and gave my thigh a tight squeeze.”

In a statement to The Root, a rep for the civil rights activist said that although Jackson “does not recall the meeting three years ago, he profoundly and sincerely regrets any pain Ms. Young may have experienced.”