Rep. John Lewis recently learned from doctors that he must undergo treatment for pancreatic cancer. He released this statement today regarding his prognosis and his plans to continue to serve the people of the 5th Congressional District of Georgia:
“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.”
Born in 1940 outside of Troy, Alabama, Rep. Lewis is one of the nation’s most recognizable living civil rights icons. As a college student at Fisk University, he organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters. As a Freedom Rider, he faced harsh beatings by angry mobs and arrests for challenging segregation.
At just 23 years old, he was a speaker at the March on Washington in 1963. His efforts to organize voter registration drives and community action programs and lead peaceful protests helped to bring about the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In 1977, John Lewis was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to direct more than 250,000 volunteers of ACTION, the federal volunteer agency. In 1981, he was elected to the Atlanta City Council and advocated for ethics in government and neighborhood preservation.
Rep. Lewis was elected to Congress in November 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since then. The district includes a portion of the City of South Fulton.
Rep. Lewis is the recipient of numerous awards including the highest civilian honor granted by President Barack Obama, the Medal of Freedom, the Lincoln Medal from the historic Ford’s Theatre, the Golden Plate Award given by the Academy of Excellence, the Preservation Hero award given by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Capital Award of the National Council of La Raza, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize, the President’s Medal of Georgetown University, the NAACP Spingarn Medal, the National Education Association Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award, and the only John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage Award” for Lifetime Achievement ever granted by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.