ATLANTA - Congressman John Lewis will undergo treatment for stage IV pancreatic cancer, according to a statement from his office Sunday evening.
In the statement, Lewis said he will return to Washington and continue to serve his constituents.
"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," the 79-year-old civil rights icon wrote.
“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. "
Lewis pledged to take on the disease with the help of medical advances – a determination that came as no surprise to his dear friend and fellow civil rights leader C.T. Vivian.
“’We must cure [him],’ was my earlier response because John Lewis is too important, too good a person to lose just because of a disease,” said Vivian.
Their relationship spans over six decades, including pivotal sit-ins and marches during the civil rights movement. Vivian applauded Lewis' commitment to what was right then, undeterred by even violence, and what is right now.
“He is a precious person,” Vivian added.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms echoed those sentiments, calling Lewis a "national treasure and the embodiment of the spirit of Atlanta."
Support rang from even across the aisle. Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted, "John Lewis has always been a fighter and I know he will approach this challenge the same way: with passion, grit and determination."
His diagnosis came after a routine medical visit, according to Sunday's statement. Lewis said he may miss a few votes while undergoing treatment, which will begin in the next several weeks, but "with God's grace I will be back on the front lines soon."
In July 2018, Lewis was hospitalized for an undisclosed reason, but was discharged after he underwent what his office described as "routine observation."
Rep. Lewis has represented Georgia's 5th Congressional District for more than 30 years.
In April, Mayor Bottoms unveiled a new art display honoring Lewis at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
The full statement can be read below: