Civil rights activist Congressman John Lewis,79, announced on Sunday that he has stage IV pancreatic cancer. The Georgia Congressman says he will stay in office and fight the disease. Lewis was diagnosed following a routine medical visit and will undergo cancer treatment.
Lewis became a civil rights activist at 25. In 1965, he joined Martin Luther King Jr. in the March on Selma, Alabama. The March on Selma was organized by nonviolent protesters so that African-American citizens could exercise their constitutional right to vote.
Southern state legislatures had multiple discriminatory laws enacted to prevent African-American citizens the right to register to vote or go to the voting polls. The protestors were attacked and Lewis had his skull broken by white police officers during the march which has become known as “Bloody Sunday.” Congressman Lewis During his time as a civil rights activist, Congressman Lewis has been arrested over 40 times standing up against injustices.
Congressman Lewis stated that he will fight his diagnosis and stated, “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.”
In November 1986, Lewis was elected into Congress and has served in Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District ever since. During his career, he has been the recipient of numerous awards. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, he has also received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize, the Lincoln Medal, the Preservation Hero award, the NAACP Spingarn Medal, the President’s Medal of Georgetown University, John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award.
Pancreatic cancer is often is diagnosed in its late stages and spreads rapidly. Pancreatic cancer typically does not have symptoms in the early stages until it begins to grows. As the disease advances, symptoms can include jaundice, back pain, decreased appetite, weight loss, itching skin, nausea, and vomiting. Stage IV pancreatic cancer means that cancer has spread to other organs. 50,000 people a year in the United States are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Support for Congressman Lewis has been pouring from across the country.
Former President Barack Obama on Twitter stated that he loves Lewis and his “incomparable will to fight,” and continued that he would be “praying” for his friend.
If there’s one thing I love about @RepJohnLewis, 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.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 30, 2019
Former President Bill Clinton also took to Twitter and expressed his love and support to Lewis. Clinton stated that if anyone had the “strength and courage to fight this, its, you.”
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. https://t.co/gNVEu1dijU
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) December 29, 2019
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also took to Twitter about Congressman Lewis and conveyed not only her support but also support from the nation. Pelosi tweeted that everyone was praying for him.
.@RepJohnLewis, 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. We know that you will be well. pic.twitter.com/j7YMUGLPC2
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) December 29, 2019