On Friday, November 17, the Rev. Jesse Jackson announced that he has Parkinson's disease. Not only that, but he revealed he has had it for two years and had been receiving outpatient care. Additionally, he shared that he is making some lifestyle changes to slow down its progress. A report by Yahoo! News confirmed this information.

The well-known 76-year-old civil rights advocate chose to tell his supporters now even though members of his family and close friends have known about it for a long time. Years ago, they noticed symptoms that led them to believe Jackson had the chronic neurological disorder.

Not a stop sign

In a statement, Rev. Jackson said it has been very painful coming to grips that he has the disease. However, he said Parkinson's disease is not a stop sign. Instead, it is a signal for him to make some lifestyle changes. Therefore, he is going to focus on physical therapy to slow down the progression of the disease. He said he was also going to use his voice to help find a cure for the disease.

The disease

According to the Parkinson's Foundation, there are about 60,000 people in the United States who are diagnosed every year with the disease. The symptoms start out with tremors and when the disease gets worse, people with it experience stiffness and difficulty walking and coordinating their movements.

Even though there is no known cause of the disease, there are treatments including certain medications, surgery and physical therapy that Jackson said he would dedicate himself to doing.

It is interesting to know that no one actually dies from Parkinson's disease, but they do die from the complications associated with the disease.

In fact, Jackson's father died at the age of 88 after he suffered a heart attack that was brought on because of Parkinson's complications.

What this means for Jackson

It is too soon to know how Jackson's illness will affect his work because he remains active with the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition that he founded nearly 50 years ago in 1971.

The Chicago-based civil rights group has kept him busy over the years. He still does a lot of traveling around the country. Just last month, he was one of many people who went to Puerto Rico for a hurricane-relief mission. He also hosted a symposium in Washington, D.C. this week.

Even with Parkinson's disease, Rev. Jackson vows to continue his life's mission to help those who can't help themselves. That includes working to free innocent prisoners among other things.