Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole speaks in 2014 at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center in Manhattan. Dole announced Thursday that he has stage four lung cancer.

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole announced Thursday that he has Stage 4 lung cancer.

Dole, 97, said his first treatment will begin Monday. “While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own,” he said in a written statement.

The longtime Republican senator represented Kansas in the Senate from 1969 to 1996, serving as the Republican leader for his last 11 years in office. He was also the Republican nominee for president in 1996, losing to Bill Clinton.

Both of Kansas’ senators released statements after learning of Dole’s diagnosis.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, said he was saddened to hear the news.

“Sen. Dole is someone I respect as a leader and consider a friend to me and (my wife) Robba,” he said. “We are praying for him and Sen. Elizabeth Dole as they tackle this new challenge. I know I speak for Kansans when I say we are all thinking of Sen. Dole and wishing him comfort and healing.

“Bob, as you face the news of this illness, I am reminded of the words from your favorite song.

‘Walk on through the wind

Walk on through the rain

Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on, walk on

With hope in your heart

And you’ll never walk alone.’”

U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, said he’s lucky to have Dole as a role model, mentor and friend. He said his family is joining “all of Kansas in praying” for Dole and his family.

“I have zero doubt in my mind Senator Dole will take this challenge head on the same way as other challenges he faced in his life. Just as he did as one of the heroes from our greatest generation, in this battle, Senator Dole will continue to show us the way through hope, resiliency, and perseverance.”