Congressman dies after cancer battle

Congressman Mark Takai is pictured in this photo.

Story highlights

  • Takai, a Democrat, represented Hawaii
  • He made his cancer publicly known last year

Washington (CNN)Rep. Mark Takai of Hawaii has died after a battle with pancreatic cancer, his office announced Wednesday. He was 49.

"The Takai family thanks the people of Hawaii for their support during this difficult time," said an official statement issued by the congressman's office, which noted Takai was surrounded by his family.
    Takai, a Democrat, made his cancer publicly known last year after a tumor was found in his pancreas.
    "A few days ago, my doctors conducted diagnostic tests in response to certain stomach pains and discomfort that I have been experiencing for several weeks," Takai said in a statement in October. "The tests show that I have a small tumor in the pancreas and I will shortly begin treatment."
    Takai was elected to Congress in 2014 after spending 20 years as a state lawmaker.
    President Barack Obama issued a statement honoring Takai, calling him a "fighter" who "leaves a legacy of courage, of service, and of hope."
    "It's the spirit he brought to more than two decades of public service on behalf of the people of Hawaii," he said. "He stood up for America's most vulnerable. He championed our troops and veterans, and proudly wore our nation's uniform. And his relentless push for cancer research inspired countless Americans fighting the same battle as him Simply put, our country is better off because of Mark's contributions."
    Colleagues on Capitol Hill were quick to respond with condolences on Twitter.
    House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted: "He was an exemplary soldier, public servant and beloved member of the House of Representatives. His love for Hawaii and the people he represented was evident every day. My prayers are with his wife, Sami, and his children, Matthew and Kalia."
    Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz tweeted: "Deeply saddened to hear about my colleague Mark Takai's passing from cancer. The Democratic family's thoughts are with the Takais today."
    Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison tweeted: "Saddened to hear about the death of @RepMarkTakai. A great public servant, and an even better father. I'm thinking about his family."
    California Rep. Loretta Sanchez tweeted: "Heartbroken by the passing of my dear colleague @RepMarkTakai after his battle with pancreatic cancer. My deepest condolences to his family."