Country singer Alan Jackson has revealed that he has a degenerative neurological condition that is affecting his balance and impacting his ability to walk.
Ten years ago Jackson learned that he had Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) but he chose not to speak publicly about his diagnosis — until now. In an interview with "Today," the music star opened up about the condition, explaining that it was inherited from his father.
"I have this neuropathy and neurological disease," Jackson said. "It's genetic that I inherited from my daddy. There's no cure for it, but it's been affecting me for years. And it's getting more and more obvious. And I know I'm stumbling around on stage. And now I'm having a little trouble balancing, even in front of the microphone, and so I just feel very uncomfortable."
Jackson explained that it was not life-threatening but was related to muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease. Most individuals with CMT experience "some amount of physical disability," according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. It affects an estimated 126,000 individuals in the United States and 2.6 million people worldwide. Although there is no cure for it, CMT can be managed through supportive therapy.
Looking at the road ahead, Jackson made it clear that he did not intend to step down from performing anytime soon.
"I never wanted to do the big retirement tour, like people do, then take a year off and then come back," he said. "I think that's kinda cheesy. And I'm not saying I won't be able to tour. I'll try to do as much as I can."
Also during the interview, Jackson spoke about his impact on country music, explaining that while he is happy to have influenced the genre, he is content being at the point where he could focus on just making the music he wants to make.
"I feel a little more freedom now, because I'm not trying to worry about getting on the radio and fitting into their limitations," Jackson said, adding that he hoped his music would be the legacy he leaves behind.
"I've always believed that the music is the most important thing. The songs. And I guess that's what I'd like to (leave) if I had a legacy."
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