While sitting down with TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager, country music veteran Alan Jackson has revealed he's been diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a degenerative nerve condition. Jackson had first been diagnosed ten years ago, and it has now been affecting his ability to walk and perform on stage.
"I have this neuropathy and neurological disease," Jackson said in the interview. "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."
While CMT is degenerative, it is not lethal, nor does it change one's life expectancy. Rather, the hereditary disease is characterized by a progressive loss of muscle tissue and touch sensations across various parts of the body.
"It's not going to kill me," Jackson explained. "It's not deadly. But it's related [to] muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease."
The country singer is still determined to tour while he can, and has no plans on retiring soon. While CMT has no cure, it is able to be managed with supportive therapy. In the meantime, Jackson wants to continue focusing on making new music for his family and fans.
"I've always believed that music is the most important thing," Jackson said. "The songs. And that's what I'd like to [leave] if I had a legacy."
In May, Jackson revealed that he did not grow up with a lot of music. His father primarily listened to gospel, and he and his family would sing in church, but it wasn't until a girlfriend's younger sister began singing with him that he fell into music. A little later, he met an older friend who introduced him to country music, and the rest became history.