Pennsylvania’s former governor, Ed Rendell, 74, announced Monday that he has Parkinson’s Disease. He shared that his symptoms have stabilized because he’s undergone aggressive treatment. “The reason I’m going public today, I want to send a message [to others experiencing symptoms],” he said during a news conference at Pennsylvania Hospital. “Get in to see a doctor, get a diagnosis, and get treatment. Parkinson’s Disease is not a death sentence,” reported Philly.com. Apparently, Rendell appeared to have some difficulty getting up from his chair as well as a slight shuffle when he walked to the microphone, but he blamed that on his arthritic knees.
“I was stunned because I’d always viewed myself as indestructible,” said Rendell, an alumnus of Penn and Villanova Law School. The former governor stated that he began having symptoms, including a slight tremor, about three and a half years ago. Thanks to the urging of his family, he saw Dr. Matthew Stern, director emeritus of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center at the University of Pennsylvania. His doctor was also at the news conference.
“I saw what it did to my mother,” Rendell said. The former mayor of Philadelphia feared he would deteriorate quickly like his mom, who was diagnosed with the same disease at age 76. She struggled for 13 years, winding up in a wheelchair. Determined to not have that happen, Rendell began rigorous physical therapy with Heather Cianci, who is a specialist at the Parkinson’s Rehabilitation Center at Pennsylvania Hospital. Not only that, but he also works out two times a week with a trainer at the Sporting Club at the Bellevue. “I’m convinced this has worked to significantly slow the progression of the disease,” offered Rendell.
His physician concurred. “I wanted the governor to do this for some time,” Stern said, referring to his patient opening up to the public about what he was experiencing. “One of the key messages the governor brings today is that …. with the right combination of medication and therapy, you can live a full and active life. The governor is an inspiring example of what Parkinson’s Disease looks like today.”
Parkinson’s has been in the news because of several other high-profile people who have revealed their struggle with the disease, including actor Michael J. Fox, singer Neil Diamond who recently retired from touring, Robin Williams, and of course Muhammad Ali, who succumbed to the disease almost exactly two years ago on June 3, 2016.