ATLANTA — Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis has spent decades fighting for millions of Americans.
Now, he's starting the fight for his life.
Friends, former staffers and those on the other side of the aisle are uniting behind Lewis after announcing late Sunday night that he is battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
Lewis sent out a tweet Monday saying, “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.”
On Monday, WSB-TV's Richard Elliot spoke to Atlanta City Councilmember Andre Dickens, who holds the seat once held by Lewis more than 30 years ago.
“His chief of staff gave me a call yesterday giving me a heads up that they were going to put out a press release,” Dickens said.
He told Elliot that he considers the congressman a close friend and mentor. Dickens fought to change the name of Freedom Parkway to John Lewis Freedom Parkway.
He said he couldn’t believe the news when they told him.
“I was stunned, and I was shocked, and my heart went out to Congressman Lewis and his staff and his family,” Dickens said.
Lewis has been getting messages of support from both sides of the political aisle.
“If there’s anyone who can beat this, it’s John Lewis. He’s a warrior,” Sen. David Perdue tweeted.
“If there’s one thing I love about John Lewis, it’s his incomparable will to fight,” said former President Barack Obama.
U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff worked for Lewis over a summer and considers him a friend.
He told Elliot that Lewis has an absolute moral compass needed in these turbulent times.
“Just as he has fought so many battles throughout his career and his life of service, so too he brings that spirit to this fight against cancer,” Ossoff said. “He remains such an important voice for human rights and civil rights and justice.”
Lewis is expected to begin his cancer treatments at a Washington, D.C., area hospital after the first of the year.
He has vowed to keep working while receiving treatments.