Civil-rights icon and Democratic Congressman John Lewis of Georgia revealed Sunday that he is battling stage-four pancreatic cancer.
“I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life,’’ Lewis, 79, said in a statement. “I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.’’
Lewis — the last survivor of the Big Six group of civil-rights activists led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s — said he would continue to serve in office while undergoing treatment. Stage-four cancer is the most advanced.
The Atlanta political stalwart said doctors discovered signs of the disease during a routine health check-up last month and that follow-up tests confirmed the diagnosis.
He said he is “clear-eyed about the prognosis’’ and that doctors told him “treatment options are no longer as debilitating as they once were, and that I now have a fighting chance.’’
Lewis added that he would be undergoing treatment for the next few weeks, although he did not say what kind.
“I may miss a few votes during this period, but with God’s grace, I will be back on the front lines soon,” Lewis said.
The US rep — who has been called the “conscience of Congress’’ — helped organize the 1963 civil-rights March on Washington and delivered an address to the crowd right before King’s famous “I Have a Dream’’ speech.
He received a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Obama in 2011.
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