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U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., announced Sunday that he has stage IV pancreatic cancer, vowing he will stay in office and fight the disease with the tenacity which he fought racial discrimination and other inequalities since the civil rights era.
U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., announced Sunday that he has stage IV pancreatic cancer, vowing he will stay in office and fight the disease with the tenacity which he fought racial discrimination and other inequalities since the civil rights era. (Mark Humphrey/AP)

Congressman John Lewis of Georgia announced Sunday that he has stage IV pancreatic cancer, vowing he will stay in office and fight the disease with the tenacity with which he fought racial discrimination and other inequalities dating to the civil rights era.

Lewis, the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists in a group once led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., said in a statement that the cancer was detected earlier this month during a routine medical visit.

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He said subsequent tests confirmed the diagnosis of stage IV pancreatic cancer.

“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," said Lewis, 79.

His statement added: "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 added that he decided he will return to the nation's capital in coming days to continue his work and begin his treatment plan. He said medical treatment will be ongoing over the next several weeks but he did not elaborate on the specifics of the treatment or the cancer itself.

“I may miss a few votes during this period, but with God’s grace I will be back on the front lines soon," he said in asking for prayers.

An Atlanta Democrat sometimes called the "conscience of the Congress," Lewis is known for the prominent role he had in the 1960s civil rights struggles.

This is a developing story.

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