By MARC LEVY, Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said Monday that he was diagnosed 3½ years ago with Parkinson’s disease.
The 74-year-old Rendell made the announcement at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, with officials from the University of Pennsylvania, as part of a public service message to urge people who suspect they have symptoms to get diagnosed and get treatment early.
Rendell said treatment at the hospital, including medication, has stopped the progression of the symptoms and that he continues to keep a busy schedule, including working out six days a week.
“It turns out I wasn’t indestructible, none of us are,” Rendell said. “But I can be helped. All of us can be.”
Rendell, a Democrat, was Pennsylvania’s two-term governor from 2003 through 2010. He was also the Democratic National Committee chairman and a two-term Philadelphia mayor who garnered the nickname “America’s mayor.”
Rendell said his mother had Parkinson’s disease for the last 13 years of her life. He said he first noticed problems with his balance and his hands shaking 3½ years ago, when family members urged him to get it checked out.
Parkinson’s involves a loss of brain cells controlling movement. Besides tremors, it can cause rigid, halting walking, slowed speech and sometimes dementia. Symptoms worsen over time and can be treated with drugs, but there is no cure.