PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Former Gov. Ed Rendell broke the news on Monday.
“It turns out, I wasn’t indestructible. None of us are,” said Rendell at a press conference at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.
The 74-year-old former governor and mayor of Philadelphia says he has Parkinson’s disease.
“Three and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease. When it happened, I was stunned. Stunned because like many of us, I’d always viewed myself as indestructible,” he said.
Sixty-thousand Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year with more than one million Americans currently managing their disease.
“I started to have some symptoms that worried me a little bit,” said Rendell. “My hand started to shake a little bit. I was having more trouble with my balance than usual.”
Parkinson’s manifests in different ways for different people.
Tremors are one sign, but there are other signs like loss of smell, constipation, difficulty walking, stooping or hunching over, dizziness or fainting, soft or low voice, and thrashing about while sleeping.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s, but David Von Hofen with the Parkinson Foundation of Western Pennsylvania says, with treatment, patients can live long functioning lives with the disease.
“Somebody can go for years and years and years without a whole lot of impact on mobility and quality of life,” Von Hofen told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
Rendell said that he thinks his symptoms have stabilized.
“The good news is, I can say without any fear of contradiction at least in my own mind, that my disease is stabilized,” Rendell said.
But Von Hofen says it is a degenerative disease.
“It is progressive, degenerative, there’s no cure, so it’s something. It’s not good news, but folks are diagnosed and can live with it for decades,” noted Von Hofen.
“It turns out that I can be helped. All of us can be,” concluded Rendell.
Gov. Tom Wolf released the following statement after Rendell’s announcement:
“Frances and I are sending our thoughts and encouragement to our friend Ed Rendell today. Pennsylvania has seen few leaders as tough as Ed and we have full confidence that neither has Parkinson’s disease. Ed should know that the entire commonwealth is standing behind him and hoping for the continued success of his treatment and therapy. As he always has, he is putting others first by going public with his diagnosis so others can also get the help they need. We are proud of everything Gov. Rendell did and does every day for Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. We look forward to continuing to work with him to build stronger and safer communities for a long time to come.”
At his press conference, the former governor said he was scared by the diagnosis because his mother had Parkinson’s for the last 13 years of her life, and he saw what it did to his mother.
Again, every patient shows the disease in different ways, and Rendell wants everyone to feel encouraged about managing their symptoms.