ATLANTA (CBS46) -- Georgia Congressman John Lewis will undergo treatment for stage IV pancreatic cancer, his office said Sunday.
Congressman Lewis released a statement about the diagnosis which was discovered during what he said was a "routine medical visit."
"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 wrote.
Lewis said that he plans to return to Washington in the coming days to "continue our work and begin my treatment plan, which will occur over the next several weeks." He indicated he may miss a few votes, "but with God's grace I will be back on the front lines soon."
Congressman Lewis has represented Georgia's 5th Congressional District since 1986 and has been a national icon of civil rights since the 1960's.
Former President Barack Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and others tweeted out their prayers for Lewis.
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
.@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
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
John Lewis has always been a fighter and I know he will approach this challenge the same way: with passion, grit, and determination. Along with millions of people, @GAFirstLady, the girls, and I are praying for @repjohnlewis and his family. #gapol https://t.co/YzV31rIG5u— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) December 29, 2019
John Lewis is a living example of strength that America needs now more than ever. We will be pulling for him and praying for him and his family as he battles cancer with his characteristic grace and courage.— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) December 29, 2019
Congressman Lewis helped spearhead the civil rights movement in the 1960's including leading the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Perhaps Lewis' defining moment in his fight for civil rights came in 1965. He, along with Hosea Williams, led over 600 peaceful, orderly protesters across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965. The group planned to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to push for voting rights in the state.
The peaceful protesters led by Lewis were met by more than 100 Alabama state troopers who gave them two minutes to disperse. Just over a minute later, the state troopers armed with clubs, bullwhips, and tear gas, unleashed a brutal beating on the protesters. Lewis was left bloodied and suffered a fractured skull, but still recounted the events at a federal hearing less than one week later.
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According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, stage IV pancreatic cancer has a five-year survival rate of one percent. "The average patient diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer will live about one year after diagnosis," according to Johns Hopkins' website.
Pancreatic cancer has been in the news lately as "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek has battled the disease. Supreme Court associate justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has also fought the disease in the last decade.
The aggressive cancer hits millions and was the cause of death for celebrities including: Steve Jobs, Aretha Franklin, Patrick Swayze, Luciano Pavarotti, Alan Rickman, Sally Ride, Michael Landon, and Joan Crawford.
Resources on Pancreatic Cancer: