Civil Rights Leader John Lewis' Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis Prompts Outpouring of Support

Former President Bill Clinton and freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar were among the many public figures that offered their support to civil rights icon and Democratic Congressman John Lewis, after his office announced on Sunday that he was being treated for stage four pancreatic cancer.

The 79-year-old Georgia lawmaker, who has represented the state's 5th Congressional District for over three decades, revealed that medical practitioners made the cancer diagnosis during a routine checkup.

"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," he said in a statement.

Lewis asserted that despite the diagnosis, he will keep serving as a member of Congress. "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. We still have many bridges to cross," the Democrat said, adding that he plans to return to Washington D.C. soon to continue work while also undergoing his treatment that is expected to occur over the "next several weeks."

Though he admits he'll likely miss a few votes in the coming month, he expressed optimism that "with God's grace, I will be back on the front lines soon."

Shortly after his diagnosis made headlines on Sunday, 'John Lewis' began trending on Twitter across America, with over 30,000 users--including Clinton, Omar and 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg--offering their support to the lawmaker. As of Sunday afternoon, 'John Lewis' rose to the third-most trending topic in the United States.

"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," Clinton tweeted.

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 is a giant—an icon of the civil rights movement, a leader in Congress and one of the kindest people I know," Omar wrote. "I'm praying for a speedy and full recovery. We need you making good trouble in the halls of Congress!"

John Lewis is a giant—an icon of the civil rights movement, a leader in Congress and one of the kindest people I know.

I’m praying for a speedy and full recovery. We need you making good trouble in the halls of Congress!

— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) December 29, 2019

"John Lewis is a living example of strength that America needs now more than ever," Buttigieg commented. "We will be pulling for him and praying for him and his family as he battles cancer with his characteristic grace and courage."

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

"News that congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis has cancer strikes hard. I've known John for over 50 years and he's always been a fighter, undeterred," American journalist Dan Rather tweeted.

News that congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis has cancer strikes hard. I’ve known John for over 50 years and he’s always been a fighter, undeterred.

— Dan Rather (@DanRather) December 29, 2019

"Oh no. You can fight this and win @repjohnlewis like you have fought so many times before. Thinking of you and your family," 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang wrote.

Oh no. You can fight this and win @repjohnlewis like you have fought so many times before. Thinking of you and your family. 🙏 https://t.co/sD11TJrtQG

— Andrew Yang🧢🇺🇸 (@AndrewYang) December 29, 2019

"Prayers for Representative Lewis who led this country in the fight to acknowledge black people were entitled to voting rights & the same civil rights as all Americans," University of Alabama professor Joyce Alene tweeted. "We need his leadership now more than ever."

Prayers for Representative Lewis who led this country in the fight to acknowledge black people were entitled to voting rights & the same civil rights as all Americans. We need his leadership now more than ever. https://t.co/nRBd454jkM

— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) December 29, 2019

"John Lewis nearly died marching for voting rights on the Edmund Pettus Bridge," writer Ari Berman remarked. "He was only 25. A moment that forever changed American history. His unbelievable courage & resiliency defeated white supremacy. Now we all need to pray he defeats cancer."

John Lewis nearly died marching for voting rights on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. He was only 25. A moment that forever changed American history. His unbelievable courage & resiliency defeated white supremacy. Now we all need to pray he defeats cancer pic.twitter.com/Z1NQw8yh4V

— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) December 29, 2019

"Nothing has slowed John Lewis's fight for justice yet and I know that won't change now. Today as he readies for another, different battle, he has a grateful nation at his back," Congressman Joe Kennedy said.

Nothing has slowed John Lewis’s fight for justice yet and I know that won’t change now. Today as he readies for another, different battle, he has a grateful nation at his back. https://t.co/mVZEUPXp3P

— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) December 29, 2019

"Let's all pray for the Conscience of the Congress, our beloved John Lewis," civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton tweeted, alongside an image of himself, Lewis and former President Barack Obama.

Let’s all pray for the Conscience of the Congress, our beloved John Lewis pic.twitter.com/U7QNqkLduU

— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) December 29, 2019

"He will fight this as he has fought so many other battles, and our hearts and souls will be with him as they have been so often before," former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich wrote. "God bless you, John Lewis, for who you are, for what you have done, for what you have left to do."

He will fight this as he has fought so many other battles, and our hearts and souls will be with him as they have been so often before.

God bless you, John Lewis, for who you are, for what you have done, for what you have left to do. https://t.co/D0b3YAtMfM

— Robert Reich (@RBReich) December 30, 2019

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

John Lewis
Congressman John Lewis chats with addresses audience attending Nashville Public Library Award to Civil Rights Icon Congressman John Lewis - Literary Award on November 19, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. Rick Diamond/Getty