John Lewis, the beloved Congressman and civil rights icon, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he revealed on Sunday. Lewis issued a statement about the news, saying the cancer is stage four, but his doctors have said he has a "fighting chance" for survival.
"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. "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."
Lewis, a U.S. Representative for Georgia's 5th congressional district, also says he plans to keep his position in Congress for the time, although he might "miss a few votes" due to his treatment. He has held the position since 1986. He was most recently was re-elected in 2018, running unopposed. No word on if Lewis intends to run for reelection in 2020 in light of the diagnosis.
"To my constituents: being your representative in Congress is the honor of a lifetime," Lewis said. "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."
No other details on his diagnosis or treatment have been released as of press time.
Lewis, 79, has made his reputation as one of the Democratic party's figureheads over the years. He was a notable figure in the U.S. civil rights movement, helping to organizing the 1963 March on Washington, among other key events. In 2011, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
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