Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas diagnosed with pancreatic cancer

Long-time representative. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she announced on social media Sunday, adding that she expects to be “occasionally absent from Congress” while she follows a treatment.

“My doctors have confirmed my diagnosis of pancreatic cancer,” Jackson Lee wrote in a letter shared on X. “I am currently undergoing treatment to combat this disease that affects tens of thousands of Americans each year.”

Jackson Lee, 74, has served in Texas’ 18th congressional district since 1995. Throughout her career, she has sponsored legislation on issues including police reform, sentencing laws, secure storage guns and hate crimes motivated by white supremacy.

Jackson Lee also sponsored legislation that led to the recognition of Juneteenth as a federal holiday in 2021; that same year, She was arrested during non-violent protests calling for the protection of voting rights.

Last year, Jackson Lee announced she would seek a 16th term in the House after losing her bid to become Houston’s first black female mayor. She won the Democratic primary on Super Tuesday earlier this year.

“As a member of Congress, I have been honored to be one of the leaders in the fight for justice and equality for all,” Jackson Lee wrote Sunday. “Today my fight is more personal, but I will approach it with the same faith and the same courage.”

Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3 percent of all cancers in the United States. An estimated 66,440 people will be diagnosed with it this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Generally considered an aggressive form of cancer, the disease often has no symptoms in its early stages.

People with pancreatic cancer may experience jaundice, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, and pain in the back or abdomen. The disease can also cause blood clots and diabetes as well as an enlarged gallbladder or liver.

Jackson Lee did not specify the type or severity of her pancreatic cancer, but said she was confident her medical team had developed “the best possible treatment plan.”

“The road ahead will not be easy, but I am confident that God will strengthen me,” she said.

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