John Lewis at the Nashville Public Library in November 2016. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) is undergoing treatment for stage 4 pancreatic cancer, his office announced Sunday.

The big picture: The 79-year-old Lewis is a civil rights icon who has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and is often referred to as "the conscience of the House." He helped lead the 1963 March on Washington and has served in the House since 1987. Lewis' decision to come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry in September was seen as one of several significant turning points in the impeachment of President Trump.

What he's 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."
This month in a routine medical visit, and subsequent tests, doctors discovered Stage IV pancreatic cancer. This 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.
So 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.
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.
Please keep me in your prayers as I begin this journey."

Go deeper ... "It is not a day of joy": Lewis gives emotional speech during impeachment debate

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