Local activist says Reverend Jackson plans lifestyle change to manage disease

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Reverend Jesse Jackson, an iconic figure in the Civil Rights movement, a face we still see at the forefront fighting for various causes today, was diagnosed with Parkinson's.

Joseph Kyles, with the local Rainbow Push Coalition, the social justice group Jackson founded, said he was just recently with the Reverend at various conventions this week.

" Nonstop, I think about first responders, police and fire and how they run to the danger. Rev. Jackson over his life`s work has been doing that. He`s a first responder in terms of humanitarian aid, a first responder in economic equality, a first responder in bringing back our captured veterans,"

Jackson also made a humanitarian trip to Puerto Rico last month still out and about despite his announcement today.

"We laughed and talked. We had lunch together today and he said no more salt, no more sugar. He used to love an occasional Coke, no more Coca-Cola, " Kyles said.

At 76, Jackson said in a statement today he plans to make some lifestyle changes to help ease the side effects of the same disease his father suffered from.

Doctor Pawan Rawal, a neurologist with Baptist Medical group treats Parkinson's.

"Parkinson's disease is the disease of the nervous system where your brain cannot make a certain chemical and essentially your body movement slows down and you can start having tremors or rigidity,"  Rawal said.

He says it's more common than you might think and can be managed.

"As the population ages, more and more people are living beyond a certain age it is expected that prevalence may rise especially with new diagnostic techniques,"  Rawal said.

While Jackson's family noticed changes three years ago, Jackson has continued to be a champion for change, Kyles says that will continue.

"He has always been on the forefront fighting and he continues to do that," Kyle said.