The 61-year-old lawmaker, Rep. Steve Holland, announced on the House Chambers at the Capitol in Jackson, Mississippi, Friday morning that doctors have diagnosed him with dementia.
Holland introduced a point of privilege to announce his diagnosis while he tried to hold his tears back. He received a standing ovation from his colleagues.
Holland, who is known for his colorful and blunt oratory, said that he found out about his condition last week. He decided to say it to raise awareness about the issue and to ask for understanding, not to make others feel pity for him. He is planning to finish this term.
“I reveal this diagnosis today, not for sympathy but to simply ask for your understanding and your patience for this journey and for the continuing prayers for my family, my business colleagues and all those who have made this life experience for me one of awesome joy and satisfaction,” said Holland
Holland is not running for the next elections
Holland said that he learned about his dementia last week and he discussed with his wife if he should keep it private. However, he decided to make the news public, and so he did in Friday’s morning session at the Mississippi House.
He took a point of privilege to make the announcement. He had previously informed about the matter to House Speaker Phillip Gunn. Before recognizing Holland, Gunn insisted that every member should stay in their seat in silence, which is not usual in the House.
Though he has always been talented for speeches, he showed certain uneasiness and his voice flickered while he made his announcement. Rep. Holland also said he would serve out his term, but he is not running in the 2019 election.
“it caught me off guard,” said Rep. Jody Steverson, R-Ripley. “In the coming days, he will be in my family’s prayers.”
The University of Mississippi Medical Center has confirmed the dementia diagnosis. Holland has not made any reference to the type of dementia he has.
Holland: “I’m a tough old bird”
Holland said that most of his days he is doing ok, but there are days where his cognitive abilities suffer and diminish. He also said that his doctors have alerted him of the unpredictability of his malady but he chooses to face it and to continue his life and his activities for as long as he is able to.
In the past, Holland has also suffered several other illnesses including stomach and lung issues. Nevertheless, he said on Friday he is going to live out his days with the “gusto of a hound dog”. He told people to remember that he is a tough old bird and that he has no fear of death.
Several of his colleagues have shown support to Holland describing him as “unselfish” and a good friend. His longtime friend Tommy Reynolds said he hopes his diagnosis is not as bad as Holland implied. He also said that Holland can say things as they need to be brought up.