Hours after news broke that Karen Lewis would not be running for mayor of Chicago, a source has confirmed that Lewis has been diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor.
The source says the President of the Chicago Teachers Union became lightheaded and began experiencing stroke-like symptoms at a campaign event eight days ago.
Shortly after, Lewis had emergency surgery.
The Chicago Teachers Union said Lewis was suffering from a "serious illiness" but said she was resting comfortably and recovering from her surgery.
The 61-year-old union leader had been holding a listening tour across Chicago as she considered a run for mayor. Those close to her campaign said she already had the necessary signatures to get her name on the ballot.
On Monday, Jhatayn “Jay” Travis, coordinator of the Karen Lewis Exploratory Committee said in a statement that Lewis “has decided to not pursue a mayoral bid. Yet she charges us to continue fighting for strong neighborhood schools, safe communities, and good jobs for everyone.”
Supporters now say "instead of fighting Rahm, she'll be fighting for her life." Many call the situation "tragic."
In March Lewis traveled to Mexico to undergo bariatric surgery, since her health insurance would not pay for the surgery in the United States. Since then, she lost more than 100 pounds.
"I have always respected and admired Karen's willingness to step up and be part of the conversation about our city's future, but nothing is more important than a person's health," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. "Along with all Chicagoans, I will keep Karen and her family in our thoughts and prayers, and we look forward to seeing her on her feet very soon."
Ald. Bob Fioretti is now considered Emanuel's biggest competitor.
"Karen and I found common ground on many issues and her participation in this debate would have elevated it," he said Monday.