Democratic congressman John Lewis, an icon in the fight for civil rights, announced Sunday he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
“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,” Lewis said in a statement.
“So I’ve decided to do what I know to do and what I have always done: I am going to fight and jeep fighting…we still have many bridges to cross,”
Lewis said he is “clear-eyed” about the prognosis and that his doctors tell him he has a fighting chance.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted that “generations of Americans” have Lewis in their thoughts and prayers, saying she knows he will be well.
The 79-year-old Lewis has represented the 5th Congressional District in Georgia since 1986 and has been a stalwart for liberal causes and human rights.
But Lewis is best known has a tireless fighter for civil rights — he marched with Martin Luther King in the early 1960s, sat down at segregated lunch counters, and was the victim of police nightsticks and billy clubs, suffering from a fractured skull.
Lewis was an original Freedom Rider, traveling on busses across the south as part of the battle for integration.
Read his full statement:
Rep. John Lewis recently learned from doctors that he must undergo treatment for pancreatic cancer. He released this statement today regarding his prognosis and his plans to continue to serve the people of the 5th Congressional District of Georgia:
“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.
“This month in a routine medical visit, and subsequent tests, doctors discovered Stage IV pancreatic cancer. This diagnosis has been reconfirmed.
“While I am clear-eyed about the prognosis, doctors have told me that recent medical advances have made this type of cancer treatable in many cases, that treatment options are no longer as debilitating as they once were, and that I have a fighting chance.
“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. We still have many bridges to cross.
“To my constituents: being your representative in Congress is the honor of a lifetime. I will return to Washington in coming days to continue our work and begin my treatment plan, which 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.
“Please keep me in your prayers as I begin this journey.”
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