Although Jackson, age 62, has had CMT for ten years, he only divulged his illness this month. According to an article on eathis.com, Jackson chose a recently aired segment of the Today Show to reveal to his fans that he has had the disease for a decade. He also announced that he will continue his performances as long as he can manage, including some tours.
Jackson grew up in rural Georgia and is famous for his blending of mainstream country and honky-tonk. He and his wife Denise have been married forty-one years and have three beautiful daughters.
There is No Cure for CMT
Jackson said that there is no cure for CMT. He acknowledges that the disease is not fatal, but he has been struggling with ever-increasing symptoms. He feels that lately, symptoms have become more obvious.
Jackson explained to the Today audience that CMT is hereditary, there is no cure, and that he no doubt inherited it from his father. CMT carries neurological and neuropathy effects with it.
About Charcot-Marie Tooth (CMT)
CMT was named after the three physicians who discovered it in 1886.
CMT is an inherited nerve disorder that causes damage to the nerves that send signals from the brain to the rest of the body. CMT also affects nerves that control muscles. Symptoms can occur at any age and usually begin in the lower legs.
CMT Affects Balance and Muscles
Jackson says CMT is making it harder for him to perform. He feels off balance even when using the microphone. He has a sensation of stumbling while on stage. Jackson describes it as a very uncomfortable feeling.
Observations From the Mayo Clinic
Reports from the Mayo Clinic about the onset of the disease place the first symptoms at the feet and lower parts of the body. The Clinic lists a weakness in legs, feet, and ankles as initial symptoms as well as:
- Feet and legs lose muscle bulk
- Loss of the ability to run
- An awkward gait
- Constant loss of balance (falling or tripping)
- Decreased sensation in legs or feet
Note that CMT can spread to the upper body and affect the arms or hands.
If a person suspects that they may have CMT, they should check their genetic history. If the disease is or was present in another family member, a doctor should be consulted.