U.S. Rep. John Lewis has an advanced form of pancreatic cancer, he announced in a Dec. 29 press release.
“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 the Atlanta Democrat, whose 5th Congressional District includes part of southern Buckhead.
Lewis, 79, was among the leading figures in the 1960s Civil Rights movement. He has held the Congressional seat since 1987.
Gov. Brian Kemp quickly responded on social media, saying, “John Lewis has always been a fighter and I know he will approach this challenge the same way: with passion, grit, and determination.” Kemp said he and his family will join “millions of people” in praying for Lewis and Lewis’s family.
U.S. Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and his wife Bonnie offered support on social media as well.
“John Lewis is a warrior,” said Perdue. “If there’s anyone who can beat this, it’s him. Bonnie and I join the entire nation in praying for his strength in the days ahead.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a written statement of support.
“John Lewis is a national treasure and the embodiment of the spirit of Atlanta,” said Bottoms. “He has spent his entire life on the front lines of the fight for equality, peace and justice. As he now takes on his next fight, as a community of faith, we stand in agreement with him, believing that God is still on the throne, and that healing and restoration are on the horizon.”
The following is Lewis’s full statement from his press release:
“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.”
Update: This story has been updated with comment from Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.