Civil Rights icon and Democratic Representative from Georgia John Lewis revealed that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. His office added that the representative will be undergoing treatment for the disease.
“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, via Fox News.
Though the representative did not elaborate further on his diagnosis, there are two types of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The first, known as stage 4a, is when the cancer is still localized but “involves” adjacent organs or blood vessels, per Texas Oncology. Stage 4b is the more serious type, in which cancer has spread to further organs like the liver.
For patients with stage 4a, treatment is focused on remission. For stage 4b, it is instead focused on the quality of life and easing pain from the cancer.
Since Mr. Lewis discussed a treatment plan, it is likely that the congressman has a stage 4a diagnosis.
Though Mr. Lewis will be receiving care at a hospital in Washington D.C., he has assured his constituents and supporters that he will not be stepping down from his duties on the hill.
“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,” he said.
The representative will no doubt want to give his opinion in the upcoming impeachment trial, which will get underway after the holidays. However, he did admit that he might have to miss a few votes in order to coordinate with his treatment plan.
Lewis, whose district covers most of Atlanta, was elected to Congress in 1986. Before that, he was a huge figure in the Civil Rights movement. The congressman was not only one of the original 13 Freedom Riders but also was the youngest of the “Big Six” leaders of the movement as the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
The Alabama native referenced his history of activism as proof of his fighting spirit.
“I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life,” he said while acknowledging that this new battle might be his most difficult yet, according to NBC News.
Many have offered Mr. Lewis their thoughts and prayers on social media, including President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and President Clinton, and more keep pouring in.