Prayers Up: Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Announces Cancer Diagnosis

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Prayers up.

Longtime Democratic Congresswoman U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, 74, on Sunday announced that she was undergoing treatment for cancer after doctors diagnosed her.

Lee, who has represented Texas’ 18th Congressional District for 15 straight terms, said she was “confident” in her doctors’ treatment of pancreatic cancer, an ailment that disproportionately affects Black people.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee announces cancer diagnosis

Jackson alerted the media of her pancreatic cancer diagnosis by releasing an official statement on Sunday night.

The full statement follows below:

“My adult life has been defined by my faith in God, my love for humanity and my commitment to public service. As a member of Congress, I’ve been honored to be one of the leaders in the fight for justice and equality for all; especially the disadvantaged and the dispossessed. Today, my fight is more personal, but I will approach it with the same faith and the same courage.

“My doctors have confirmed my diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. I am currently undergoing treatment to battle this disease that impacts tens of thousands of Americans every year.

“I am confident that my doctors have developed the best possible plan to target my specific disease. The road ahead will not be easy, but I stand in faith that God will strengthen me.

“To the constituents of the 18th Congressional District: Serving as your representative in Congress for 30 years is one of my greatest honors. Your hopes and aspirations inspire my efforts on behalf of our community every day.  As I pursue my treatments, it is likely that I will be occasionally absent from Congress, but rest assured my office will continue to deliver the vital constituent services that you deserve and expect.

“I am committed to working with our Congressional Leadership including Leader Hakeem Jeffries and the Speaker of House to serve this nation and be present for votes on legislation that is critical for the prosperity and security of the American people. By God’s grace, I will be back at full strength soon.

“Please keep me and my family in your prayers as you have always done. Know that you will remain in mine. As always, God bless you and God bless the United States of America.”

Jackson Lee’s announcement comes a little more than a week after she reintroduced a sweeping criminal justice reform bill named for George Floyd ahead of the fourth anniversary of his police murder in Minneapolis.

“Far too many lives have been lost or forever changed due to unacceptable incidents of police brutality throughout our nation,” Jackson Lee told reporters on May 24 during a press conference announcing the reintroduction of the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, which has languished in legislative limbo for years because of Senate Republicans’ filibustering. “We cannot allow another American to be deprived of his or her humanity, dignity and constitutional right without taking action.”

Pancreatic cancer and Black people

Pancreatic cancer long targeted Black people, but even more vexing is the fact that so little is known about it, including what causes it.

When caught early enough, pancreatic cancer is curable, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

“Up to 10 percent of patients who receive an early diagnosis become disease-free after treatment,” Johns Hopkins Medicine explained on its website. “For patients who are diagnosed before the tumor grows much or spreads, the average pancreatic cancer survival time is three to three and a half years.”

The statistics for pancreatic cancer victims along racial lines are damning, with a lopsided number of Black people being diagnosed with the ailment.


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