Longtime Florida Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings announced on Monday that he was being treated for pancreatic cancer and is optimistic about his prognosis.
“I was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and in the midst of this traumatizing news, I found myself wondering not only if I would survive this disease, but also if it would impact my ability to perform my duties,” the 82-year-old Hastings said in his statement. “Now that I have begun treatment, I feel hopeful about survival and about my ability to continue serving my constituents of Florida’s 20th Congressional district and the nation.”
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Hastings added added: “Should it become clear that this cancer which has invaded my body cannot be defeated, I will tell you so.”
Hastings has been a prominent figure in Sunshine State politics for decades. He was the first African-American to serve as a federal trial judge in Florida history, but then was accused of bribery and perjury. Hastings was acquitted of those changes, yet years later was impeached by the Senate.
Despite the controversy, Hastings was elected to Congress in 1992, and he hasn’t faced a serious political challenge since then.
“In the African-American community, Alcee is an icon, a symbol of progress,” said Chris Smith, a former state senator and leader in Broward County’s black community. “He was one of the first black lawyers in Broward who fought for school integration, fought for busing and fought for equality. He’s the John Lewis of Broward County. Alcee is in a revered lane.”