Crusader Staff Report
Leaders from around the country are rallying to support civil rights icon John Lewis, who on Sunday, December 29, announced that he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
Lewis, who represents Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, is the oldest serving member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the last surviving member of the Big Six of the civil rights movement.
Lewis, 79, said he plans to return to Washington “in coming days to continue our work and begin my treatment plan, which will occur over the next several weeks.”
Lewis released a statement through his office.
“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.
Lewis received an outpouring of support online from colleagues and two former presidents.
Congressman Bobby Rush said, “Heaven has the final say. Prayer matters, and John Lewis has the prayers of the entire nation behind him. My prayers are with him and his family during these most difficult times.”
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference said, “Our prayers go out to Congressman John Lewis. He has been a longtime supporter of the SCLC and for the voiceless in America.
“We encourage him to stay strong, vigilant and relentless in addressing the most serious fight for his life just as he has done continuously in the fight to protect the civil and human rights for our people. There is no civil rights warrior more dedicated to the cause than John Lewis. I know he will wage this battle head on.”
“If there’s one thing I love about @RepJohnLewis, it’s his incomparable will to fight,” former President Barack Obama tweeted. “I know he’s got a lot more of that left in him. Praying for you, my friend.”
“If there’s anyone with the strength and courage to fight this, it’s you, John,” former President Bill Clinton tweeted on Sunday. “Hillary and I love you, and we join with millions of other Americans in praying for you and your family.”
“Praying for my friend and hero @repjohnlewis who has as much bravery and strength as anyone I’ve ever known,” Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., wrote on Twitter.
Representative Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, tweeted: “I am so deeply saddened by this news. Knowing and working with him has been one of the greatest blessings of my life in public service. But I also have faith that John Lewis will beat this. He is a warrior like no other. Sending you much love and all my prayers, @repjohnlewis.”
According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 57,000 people in the United States will have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2019, according to the American Cancer Society. The disease, which accounts for about 7 percent of all cancer deaths, is more common in men than women, it said.
In March, Jeopardy game show host Alex Trebek revealed in a YouTube video he had been suffering from stomach pains before being diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, which he vowed to fight.