Civil rights hero and outspoken LGBTQ ally Rep. John Lewis announced that he will be undergoing treatment for Stage IV pancreatic cancer.

In a statement released Sunday (December 29), the 79-year-old representative said he had “never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.”

“This month in a routine medical visit, and subsequent tests, doctors discovered I have Stage IV pancreatic cancer,” he said. “The diagnosis has been reconfirmed. 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.”

“To my constituents: being your representative in Congress is the honor of a lifetime,” the statement continued. “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.”

Lewis has been a representative of Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, which covers most of Atlanta, since first being elected in 1986. Throughout his career, he has been outspoken about LGBTQ rights. In June 2019, he introduced the Every Child Deserves a Family Act into the House of Representatives, which would eliminated discrimination in foster care based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Lewis also came out in public support of the Equality Act.

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