Steve Scalise, second most powerful Republican in Congress, battling cancer
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, but he said he expects to continue working and return to Washington.
The 57-year-old Louisiana lawmaker said in a statement Tuesday that he had been feeling “off” for a few days and had blood work done. The results showed irregularities, and he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma after undergoing additional tests.
“I am incredibly grateful we were able to detect this early and that this cancer is treatable,” Scalise said. “I am thankful for my excellent medical team, and with the help of God, support of my family, friends, colleagues, and constituents, I will tackle this with the same strength and energy as I have tackled past challenges.”
Scalise was elected to the US Congress in 2008 and has steadily risen through the ranks of Republican leadership. He is currently right-hand man to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and his job is to keep the chamber’s conservative majority in line.
In 2017, Scalise was attending practice for a congressional baseball game when a gunman opened fire on the group, wounding five people. Scalise was shot in the hip and underwent a months-long recovery.
Republican colleagues noted Scalise’s previous recovery in messages of support.
“The same faith, family support, and internal strength that made Steve such an inspiration to others after he was shot, will bring him through this illness and once more inspire us all,” Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said in a statement.
Multiple myeloma is a relatively uncommon cancer, with about 35,730 cases expected to be diagnosed in the US this year. The cancer affects plasma cells, the white blood cells that help with the body’s immune response.
“Although there currently is no cure for this disease, it is treatable if detected early enough,” Dr E Anders Kolb, head of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, said in a statement. “Over the years, countless treatment advances have proven effective in reducing symptoms, slowing disease progression and prolonging life while preserving a patient’s quality of life.”
Scalise’s diagnosis comes as the House is in the midst of a heated midterm election campaign. He is expected to continue working from home while he undergoes treatment.
“I expect to work through this period and intend to return to Washington,” Scalise said.