Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis Retiring

Lewis confirmed to NBC 5 that she turned in her retirement papers earlier this week

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis is retiring just weeks after undergoing brain surgery amid an ongoing battle with cancer. 

Lewis confirmed to NBC 5 that she turned in her retirement papers earlier this week. 

"I need to focus on my health right now," Lewis said. "It's going pretty well but it's also because I'm focused on it." 

Lewis, who is now at home, spent the last few weeks in the hospital having undergone another procedure in her battle with cancer. 

"It comes back, it’s aggressive like that," she said. 

According to CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey Lewis advised him earlier this month of her recent "medical procedure." 

"As we all know, Karen is a fighter," he said in a statement. 

He added that her message to him was to "Tell our delegates, let's get ready to fight!"

Lewis was first diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer, in 2015 as she was considering a run for Chicago mayor. Late last year, Lewis revealed she suffered a stroke in November.

"I woke up, couldn't move my left leg, my left hand," she told NBC 5 from the hospital at the time.

Lewis said in November she had no speech issues following the stroke and planned to use physical therapy to regain movement on her left side.

She spoke publicly in February, for the first time since her stroke, to record a campaign radio ad for Brandon Johnson, who ran in the Democratic primary against Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin and won.

She recently took a medical leave to work on stroke rehabilitation.

"I've seen firsthand the tenacity and drive that makes Karen Lewis a worthy advocate for Chicago children and teachers, and we’ve grown to admire each other as a friends," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement Friday. "Karen may be stepping down from her position at CTU, but I know she’ll never stop fighting for Chicago’s children."

CPS CEO Janice Jackson called Lewis a "tireless advocate for Chicago's educators and students."

"She's someone I've been honored to call a partner and a friend for many years," Jackson said in a statement. "I want to thank Karen for her commitment to promoting quality instruction, and I know she will remain an important voice for our schools going forward."

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