Congressman John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who is also known as a Civil Rights Era warrior, announced on Sunday evening that he is fighting a new battle: stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
“I have been in some kind of fight—for freedom, equality, basic human rights—for nearly my entire life,” Lewis said in a press statement on Sunday evening. “I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.”
The cancer was discovered during a routine medical visit earlier this month, his office said. While pancreatic cancer is known for its low survival rate, Lewis said he has hope.
‘I Am Going to Fight’
“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 are treatment options are no longer as debilitating as they once were, and that I have a fighting chance,” Lewis said.
“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.”
The congressman plans to continue to do work in Congress, he said, noting that he “may miss a few votes,” 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,” he added.
Lewis Leads on Impeachment, Voting Rights
In the House, Lewis has taken a leadership position on impeachment charges against Donald Trump. His speech on the House floor when he first called for Trump’s impeachment in September was seen as a turning point in House Democrats’ decision to begin the impeachment process. Earlier this month, just before the House voted on two articles of impeachment, Lewis asked his fellow congress members to put country before party.
“Our nation is founded on the principle that we do not have kings. We have presidents. And the Constitution is our compass. When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something, to do something!” Lewis admonished his fellow members. “Our children and their children will ask us, ‘What did you do? What did you say?'”
Lewis, who marched for voting rights in the 1960s, recently introduced a bill to restore key provisions of the Voting Rights Act that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 2013. Calling voting rights “almost sacred,” the Georgia congressman urged his fellow members of Congress to pass the legislation in June.
“I am deeply and very concerned about the future of our democracy. It seems the lights are about to go out. We must have the capacity and the ability to redeem the soul of this nation and set it on the right course. We must do all we can to make this a nation where justice and the voice of the people prevails,” Lewis said at the time.