"If there’s one thing I love about [Rep. John Lewis], it’s his incomparable will to fight," President Obama wrote on Twitter

By Benjamin VanHoose
December 30, 2019 10:26 AM
Advertisement

Barack Obama is extending his support following news of Rep. John Lewis’ cancer diagnosis.

On Sunday, the 79-year-old Congressperson and civil rights leader from Georgia announced he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and will undergo treatment in the upcoming weeks. The discovery came after a routine medical visit.

“I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life,” Lewis said in a statement. “I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.”

He continued: “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.”

Echoing that fighting mentality, Obama, 58, shared his confidence that Lewis will stay strong during the health scare.

“If there’s one thing I love about @RepJohnLewis, it’s his incomparable will to fight,” tweeted Obama. “I know he’s got a lot more of that left in him. Praying for you, my friend.”

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., waits to enter the Senate chamber to listen to the farewell address of the Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the Capitol on Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Rep. John Lewis, 2019
| Credit: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call

In his statement, Lewis said he plans to continue his political duties while receiving medical treatment.

“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 for the Beloved Community,” he said. “We still have many bridges to cross.”

He added: “To my constituents: being your representative in Congress is the honor of a lifetime. I will return to Washington in coming days to continue our work and begin my treatment plan, which will occur over the next several weeks. I may miss a few votes during this period, but with God’s grace I will be back on the front lines soon.”

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories

Barack Obama embraces Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., after Lewis introduced the president with an emotional speech by the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," a landmark event of the civil rights movement, . Rep. Lewis was beaten during "Bloody Sunday" and is a leader of the civil rights movement Obama Selma 50th, Selma, USA
Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AP/Shutterstock

In 2015, on the 50th anniversary of the Selma, Alabama, march, Lewis introduced Obama at an event to commemorate the significant moment. During his remarks, the 44th president mentioned that Lewis is one of his role models.

“It is a rare honor in this life to follow one of your heroes,” he said at the start of his speech. “And John Lewis is one of my heroes.”

Lewis, an Alabama native who experienced Selma firsthand as a leader of the march — and someone who suffered the police brutality on that day — encouraged the crowds at the commemorative event to finish the push for equality and “recommit ourselves to the work.”

“Go out there, push and pull, until we redeem the soul of America,” he said at the time.