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Rep. John Lewis Gives First Interview After Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis

Days after disclosing he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Rep. John Lewis is speaking out publicly about the diagnosis and his plans for the future.

In an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Georgia Democrat struck a positive, determined tone and indicated he has no plans to withdraw from his current responsibilities.

“It is a challenge and a fight. But I have had challenges before and been fighting all my life,” Lewis told the paper. “I am ready for the fight. I will go through the treatment and face the day each day like it is a new day. I will continue to be hopeful and optimistic.”

Lewis’ reference to overcoming prior challenges is one hell of an understatement. The 79-year-old rose to prominence as a civil rights organizer in the 1960s. In 1965, Alabama state troopers beat him in the head with a nightstick as he and 600 nonviolent protesters crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in what became known as Bloody Sunday.

He overcame a skull fracture and more than 40 arrests through the years. In 1986, he won a seat in the U.S. House, which he’s held ever since. He told the AJC he plans to seek reelection in 2020, though he acknowledged this latest fight will be less familiar than what’s come before. 

“As you well know, I will be going through something that I have never been through before,” Lewis said. “I have had friends and colleagues who have gone through similar situations. I will be talking and learning from them and obeying my physicians.”

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