Keeping Optimism Amid Health Battle
- Country star Alan Jackson, 64, walked his daughter down the aisle at her wedding, despite battling a nerve disease called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
- Jackson is finding joy in life by focusing on loved ones and his music.
- The singer was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease in 2011.
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease affects the muscles, mostly in the arms and legs, and can lead to loss of sensation and difficulty walking.
- "Music can promote relaxation and distract from the pain associated with many illnesses," Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center said while describing the benefits of music therapy.
Singer Alan Jackson, 64, may be battling a nerve disease that affects his mobility, but he isn’t letting it stop him from marking beautiful milestones in life: like walking his daughter down the aisle.
The country music legend was all smiles alongside his beautiful family as they welcomed a new addition during daughter Mattie Jackson’s wedding.Read More
Denise and I are so happy to officially welcome Connor into our family! Wishing Mattie & Connor Smith a lifetime of happiness… Livin' on Love!ðŸ“¸: @KristynHogan pic.twitter.com/cg3ZbvNm7h Alan Jackson (@OfficialJackson) May 22, 2023
Jackson's country music career earned him several accolades, including several CMA Entertainer of the Year awards and a Grammy. More than 30 of his hit songs topped the charts over the years, including "Don't Rock the Jukebox" and "Gone Country.”
He also famously performed the hang-out song "It's Five O'clock Somewhere” with fun-loving musician Jimmy Buffet.
Jackson's daughter Mattie married her husband Connor at The Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Florida. In an Instagram post, she said she was grateful.
"Wooooo we did it!! Grateful is a gigantic understatement. More pretty pics to come later – off to the islands with my HUSBAND," Mattie said.
She also posted a video collage of photos from the beautiful events, which included a snapshot of Alan walking Mattie down the aisle in an outdoor ceremony. He wore a black suit and, of course, a cream cowboy hat.
It was undoubtedly a meaningful moment for the faughter and daughter, as he is battling a rare nerve condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
Alan Jackson's Nerve Disease Diagnosis
Alan Jackson was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease in 2011, according to an interview with the "Today Show." He revealed his diagnosis publicly about a decade later.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is an "inherited nerve defect that causes abnormalities in the nerves that supply your feet, legs, hands, and arms," Johns Hopkins Medicine describes.
According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms associated with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease may include:
- Decreased ability to run
- Weakness in your legs, feet, and ankles
- Loss of muscle in your legs and feet
- Curled toes
- Higher than normal step or gait
- Frequent tripping or falling
- Loss of feeling in your legs and feet
For Jackson, the disease affects his balance and mobility, which impacted his ability to perform on-stage as he had in the past.
"I know I'm stumbling around on stage. Now I'm having a little trouble balancing, even in front of the microphone, and so I just feel very uncomfortable," he said.
Although he's been battling his condition, he did not let it stop him from doing what brings him joy making music.
Patients diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease may manage their symptoms through medications, and physical and occupational therapy designed to strengthen their muscles.
Keeping Hope Through a Health Challenge
Finding Joy Amid a Health Battle
Alan Jackson told GQ Magazine in a 2018 interview, "I just love making that music." It's that love and joy for country music that's kept him going alongside the support of his family, friends, and fans.
When to comes to music as a form of therapy, “music can promote relaxation and distract from the pain associated with many illnesses," according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
The cancer survivors we spoke to also agreed that art therapy such as music, painting, dancing, and more helped lift their spirits during their health challenge.
It's not uncommon for people battling cancer – or any other health issue – to experience emotions such as anger, confusion, and sadness. So, the opportunity to express these emotions through artistic outlets can be extremely helpful.
Two-time cancer survivor Bianca Muniz, turned to music as an outlet during her experience with cancer.
Her cancer journey began at just 11 years old when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Then, at 22 years old, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Bianca says that undergoing numerous different treatments did have an impact on her voice, but she never let that get in the way of her love of performing, and cancer actually served as a muse for creating new music.
WATCH: Two-time cancer survivor Bianca Muniz used her struggle to inspire her music
"This experience has had two different effects on my creativity and my music, so I've gotten a lot of inspiration from it," Bianca says.
"But also the side effects of treatment, of chemo, and surgery have definitely had a little bit of a negative effect on my voice, but then again, I love performing. I always feel happy after I've performed."
Since Jackson's diagnosis with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, he's kept himself focused on his music and family. Although he's still dealing with his disease, he's not letting it stop him from working on a future album.
"I'm always scribbling down ideas and thinking about melodies and I feel like there'll be some more music to come," he said to his daughter on her podcast, "In Joy Life with Mattie Jackson."
Aside from the music, walking his daughter down the aisle and watching her get married surely brought Jackson so much joy. And it’s this joy through his health challenge that can help him cope.
Dr. Samantha Boardman, a New York-based psychiatrist and author, tells SurvivorNet that people going through a health challenge like cancer can find strength in focusing on their values. This could be family, close friendships, spirituality. Reminding yourself of what your values are and how you are living accordingly is another way to unleash that inner strength.
WATCH: Finding Joy After Cancer Turns Your Life Upside-Down.
SurvivorNet previously spoke with colon cancer warrior Evelyn Reyes-Beato, who adopted a mindset like Alan Jackson. She didn't let her health condition stop her from enjoying life and achieving her goals.
"When I got cancer, I was like f*ck that, I'm not going to waste what's left of my life going to school," she says. "If I'm gonna die, I'm not gonna die at school. I'm gonna die on a beach, I'm gonna die in the Bahamas, in Paris, in Australia â€¦ somewhere, but I'm not gonna die in school," Reyes-Beato said.