Rep. John Lewis during a recent interview with The Bitter Southerner podcast. Lewis announced Sunday he has stage IV cancer.
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Rep. John Lewis during a recent interview with The Bitter Southerner podcast. Lewis announced Sunday he has stage IV cancer.

Rep. John Lewis (D-Atlanta) says he has been diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer but plans to stay in office.

The longtime Congressman and civil rights icon said Sunday that "he has never faced a fight like this" throughout his life.

“This month in a routine medical visit, and subsequent tests, doctors discovered Stage IV pancreatic cancer. This diagnosis has been reconfirmed," he said in a statement. “I have been in some kind of fight – for freedom, equality, basic human rights – for nearly my entire life."

The 79-year-old was first elected to Congress in 1986 and represents Georgia's 5th Congressional District.

Lewis continued in his statement:

“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," he said.

Both Republicans and Democrats have been quick to offer their prayers and support.

“Congressman Lewis is a national treasure, my friend, my hero, and the hero of people across our world who are in the fight to make good trouble everywhere," Democratic Party of Georgia chair and State Sen. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) said in a statement. "I know that he will take on this fight just like he has for every other challenge: with strength, with purpose, and with courage. He and his family are in my prayers, and all Georgia Democrats stand with him in this fight.”

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said on Twitter that his family "along with millions of people" were sending their regards.

"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.

Stacey Abrams called Lewis "America’s conscience and Georgia’s heart" in her message.

"We stand with him as he fights one more battle - to defeat pancreatic cancer," she tweeted. "As he wages that war, he continues to do the people’s work, buoyed by the prayers and good will of millions. God bless you, my friend."

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. during a television news interview at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 16, 2019.
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Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. during a television news interview at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 16, 2019.