On Sunday, U.S. Rep. John Lewis announced that he will remain in office while undergoing treatment after being diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
“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,” Lewis said in the statement.
“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,” said Lewis.
Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton shared their words of support and encouragement to Lewis.
“If there’s one thing I love about @RepJohnLewis, it’s his incomparable will to fight. I know he’s got a lot more of that left in him. Praying for you, my friend,” wrote Obama.
“If there’s anyone with the strength and courage to fight this, it’s you, John. Hillary and I love you, and we join with millions of other Americans in praying for you and your family,” tweeted Clinton.
The 79-year-old learned of his diagnosis earlier this month after a “routine medical visit and subsequent tests.” Lewis currently represents Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, which covers most of Atlanta. He was elected to Congress in 1986 after defeating Julian Bond to become the second African-American to represent Georgia in Congress post-Reconstruction. He has been re-elected 16 times and won another two-year term in 2018.
Lewis is an Alabama native and was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington. He is known as a being a survivor after being beaten and as a Freedom Rider in 1961, and again in 1965 during Selma’s “Bloody Sunday.”
According to the American Cancer Society, almost 57, 000 Americans were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, as it’s the country’s third leading cause of cancer deaths.