Jackson Lee, Veteran Democrat in Congress, Says She Has Pancreatic Cancer


Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas, said on Sunday that she has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer but plans to continue her work in Congress as she undergoes treatment.

Ms. Jackson Lee, who at 74 has served nearly three decades in the House, said in a statement that she was undergoing a treatment plan mapped out by her team of doctors. She added that “the road ahead will not be easy” and would likely lead to occasional absences.

The announcement comes as attendance in the House of Representatives has received more attention than previous years because of the historically slim majority Republicans hold over Democrats: They now hold 217 seats to Democrats’ 213. Both parties have stressed the importance of full attendance to do their best to drive their legislative agendas.

In February, a Republican attempt to impeach Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, was defeated by a single vote when Representative Al Green, Democrat of Texas, surprised his colleagues with a dramatic arrival on the House floor in a hospital gown to cast the critical vote. The impeachment charges later passed by a single vote when another ailing member, Representative Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana and the House majority leader, returned to Washington after receiving treatment for blood cancer.

Though pancreatic cancer is considered relatively rare, it has recently gained renewed attention after several high-profile people have been diagnosed and succumbed to the disease. They include Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Representative John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat and civil rights leader; the “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek; and the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Treatment options for the disease can vary, and include surgical interventions, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Often doctors will use a combination of treatments depending on the patient’s overall health and age. Ms. Jackson Lee did not disclose any information about her treatment plan but asked for supporters to keep her and her family in their prayers.

“By God’s grace, I will be back at full strength soon,” she wrote.

She also told her constituents in Texas’ 18th Congressional District, which includes Houston and surrounding left-leaning cities, not to expect any disruptions in the services her office provides.

“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,” she wrote in the statement.

Ms. Jackson Lee is coming off an unsuccessful campaign for mayor in Houston last year. After the loss, she emerged from a Democratic primary in March with 60 percent of the vote in the solidly blue district. The general election in November is likely to be the easiest electoral challenge of the three contests.

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