Civil rights icon and US Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and must undergo treatment, his office announced Sunday.
“I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life. I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now,” the 79-year-old said in a statement.
“This month in a routine medical visit, and subsequent tests, doctors discovered Stage IV pancreatic cancer. This diagnosis has been reconfirmed,” he said.
“While I am clear-eyed about the prognosis, doctors have told me that recent medical advances have made this type of caner treatable in many cases, that treatment options are no longer as debilitating as they once were, and that I have a fighting chance,” he added
“So I have decided to do what I know to do and do what I have always done: I am going to fight it and keep fighting for the Beloved Community,” Lewis said. “We still have many bridges to cross.”
The Georgia Democrat added that he plans to return to Washington in the coming days to continue his work in Congress and also begin a treatment plan, which he added “will occur over the next several weeks.”
“I may miss a few votes during this period, but with God’s grace I will be back on the front lines soon,” he said.
The long-serving Democrat has represented Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, which includes much of Atlanta, since first being elected in 1986.
Prior to his election to Congress, Lewis rose to national prominence as a civil rights leader for his work as a freedom fighter and for famously marching alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the March on Washington in 1963.
“John Lewis is a giant—an icon of the civil rights movement, a leader in Congress and one of the kindest people I know,” Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted in reaction to the news. “I’m praying for a speedy and full recovery. We need you making good trouble in the halls of Congress!”
John Lewis is a giant—an icon of the civil rights movement, a leader in Congress and one of the kindest people I know.
I’m praying for a speedy and full recovery. We need you making good trouble in the halls of Congress!
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) December 29, 2019
Mayor Pete Buttigieg responded to the news by tweeting: “John Lewis is a living example of strength that America needs now more than ever. We will be pulling for him and praying for him and his family as he battles cancer with his characteristic grace and courage.”
John Lewis is a living example of strength that America needs now more than ever. We will be pulling for him and praying for him and his family as he battles cancer with his characteristic grace and courage.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) December 29, 2019