CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston Fire Chief Thomas Carr received a warm reception from his fellow fire fighters after announcing his diagnosis with Parkinson's Disease Tuesday afternoon.
Despite the applause he received from city firefighters and police, the news was still devastating.
"We've got some hard times. This is a degenerative disease so I'm going to get worse. Hopefully slowly," Carr said.
Carr said he and his family found out about his diagnosis several weeks ago, but he thinks he may have shown signs for years.
"In hindsight, looking at all the signs and symptoms over the years, I would say I've had it, didn't know I had it for a few years," Carr added.
During a press conference Tuesday at CFD headquarters Chief Carr said he's at peace with his diagnosis and that he plans to stay with the department.
"I'm being treated with medication and it's helpful. It puts me in a position where I am able to work and do the things the department's vision has laid out," Carr said.
After talking with Carr's doctors, Mayor Joe Riley said he fully supports Carr's decision,"Dr. Joseph advised me, in his opinion, Chief Carr would be capable of leading the city fire department for many years to come and I'm confident in that as well."
Dr. Istvan Takacs, an MUSC Neurologist agrees, "A diagnosis is nothing more than a label. If the Chief did his job yesterday, he can do it tomorrow and next week."
Although Dr. Takacs isn't familiar with the specifics of Chief Carr's situation, he says there's hope for people living with Parkinson's Disease.
"Even those who get parkinson's disease earlier can look ahead to functional years given a combination of medicine and possibly surgery," Takacs said.
In the mean time, Chief Carr and the Charleston Fire Department are ready to move forward.
"It's devastating to some extent, but I'm focused on my work here," Carr said.
Mayor Riley chose Chief Carr to lead the department in the fall of 2008 after Chief Rusty Thomas retired.
Carr has been in the business for more than 30 years and was the fire chief in Montgomery County, Maryland before coming to Charleston.