Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis announces he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer

Georgia Congressman and Civil Rights icon John Lewis announced that he has been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.

Posted: Dec 30, 2019 12:00 PM
Updated: Dec 30, 2019 12:00 PM

Civil rights icon and US Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, his office announced Sunday.

Lewis, 79, said he was diagnosed following a routine medical visit with subsequent tests that reconfirmed the diagnosis. The long-time Georgia congressman will undergo treatment for the cancer.

"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, who in March 1965 joined forces with Martin Luther King Jr. to lead a voting rights march out of Selma, Alabama, said in a statement.

He continued later: "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."

Pancreatic cancer was the third-leading cause of death from cancer in the United States in 2018, after lung and colorectal cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute. The cancer, on average and across all stages, has a five-year survival rate of 9%, according to the American Cancer Society.

But Lewis, who is in his 17th term as a member of Congress, is vowing to continue his work, stating that he'll return to Washington in the coming days to begin his treatment plan, which will last 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," he said.

Lewis has represented Georgia's 5th Congressional District, which includes much of Atlanta, since first being elected in 1986.

A leader of a civil rights group called Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, he was one of the participants in the key 1965 civil rights protest pushing for voting rights from Selma to Alabama's capital, Montgomery. Lewis -- who had his skull broken by white police officers during the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma -- was, by his own count, arrested more than 40 times during his days of civil rights activism.

"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 said Sunday.

News of Lewis' diagnosis shook Washington Sunday, prompting an outpouring of support. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Lewis in a tweet that "we are all praying for you following this diagnosis."

"John, know that generations of Americans have you in their thoughts & prayers as you face this fight. We are all praying that you are comfortable," Pelosi, a California Democrat, said. "We know that you will be well."

Former President Bill Clinton echoed the same sentiment, tweeting, "If there's anyone with the strength and courage to fight this, it's you, John. Hillary and I love you, and we join with millions of other Americans in praying for you and your family."

And former President Barack Obama -- who in 2011 presented Lewis with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor -- wrote: "If there's one thing I love about (Rep. John Lewis), it's his incomparable will to fight. I know he's got a lot more of that left in him. Praying for you, my friend."

In recent years, Lewis has drawn headlines for stirring up what he calls "good trouble" for his vocal opposition to President Donald Trump -- including voting to impeach the President earlier this month.

In July, he offered a forceful rebuke of Trump's racist tweets against four Democratic congresswomen of color.

"I know racism when I see it. I know racism when I feel it. And at the highest level of government, there's no room for racism," he said.

"It sows the seeds of violence and destroys the hopes and dreams of people. The world is watching. They are shocked and dismayed because it seems we have lost our way as a nation, as a proud and great people."

This story has been updated with additional developments Sunday.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 161516

Reported Deaths: 3916
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10708104
Hinds10519205
Harrison7555113
Jackson6708128
Rankin6130112
Lee547697
Madison5202110
Forrest400187
Jones382189
Lauderdale3727147
Lafayette344057
Washington3367108
Lamar307550
Lowndes261167
Oktibbeha259962
Bolivar250185
Panola240253
Neshoba2311122
Marshall227151
Leflore213991
Monroe212278
Pontotoc211231
Lincoln200867
Sunflower195555
Warren184958
Tate184051
Union176826
Copiah172540
Pike168360
Pearl River163870
Yazoo162940
Scott162730
Itawamba162637
Alcorn160428
Coahoma157844
Prentiss156732
Simpson155153
Adams148352
Grenada147145
Leake143344
Holmes135761
Covington135541
Tippah132530
George131725
Winston131726
Hancock130942
Wayne124924
Attala124735
Marion124248
Tishomingo114844
Chickasaw112132
Newton112129
Tallahatchie100727
Clay97127
Clarke95653
Jasper88523
Stone83115
Calhoun81513
Walthall79930
Montgomery78826
Carroll76315
Smith75716
Lawrence75214
Yalobusha74428
Noxubee74217
Perry69326
Tunica63519
Greene63022
Jefferson Davis60217
Amite59315
Claiborne59316
Humphreys55719
Quitman5117
Benton50518
Kemper49318
Webster47914
Wilkinson41322
Jefferson38712
Franklin3726
Choctaw3697
Sharkey33117
Issaquena1234
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 260359

Reported Deaths: 3776
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34716513
Mobile20452370
Madison14215153
Tuscaloosa13755173
Montgomery12731243
Shelby1110278
Baldwin9341137
Lee801566
Morgan722855
Etowah692170
Calhoun6809121
Marshall675058
Houston552739
DeKalb512940
Cullman480246
St. Clair460357
Limestone455046
Lauderdale443357
Elmore432567
Walker3861112
Talladega381157
Jackson361623
Colbert341546
Blount315845
Autauga289342
Franklin262634
Coffee257717
Dale244454
Dallas234932
Chilton233641
Covington232434
Russell23153
Escambia206932
Tallapoosa190291
Chambers187551
Clarke164120
Pike163814
Marion148236
Winston144725
Lawrence137336
Pickens129720
Geneva12818
Marengo126724
Bibb125238
Barbour121429
Butler120042
Randolph107022
Cherokee106724
Hale101432
Fayette99916
Clay94825
Washington93921
Henry8996
Monroe84611
Lowndes82629
Cleburne80714
Macon77122
Crenshaw73330
Conecuh72914
Lamar7258
Bullock70919
Perry6987
Wilcox65518
Sumter59522
Greene44518
Choctaw43519
Coosa3824
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