House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) said on Wednesday that chemotherapy has helped beat back his blood cancer.
After delivering a health update to his colleagues in a closed-door conference meeting, Scalise shared details about his progress during a news conference that otherwise focused on the spending negotiations ahead of a possible government shutdown at the beginning of next month.
“The good news is the cancer has dropped dramatically because of the success of the chemotherapy attacking the cancer,” Scalise said, standing at a podium flanked by a couple of fellow GOP lawmakers. “So, thank God, those prayers have been answered.”
Scalise, 57, announced in late August that he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, “a very treatable blood cancer,” and that he expected to keep working while undergoing treatment.
On Wednesday, Scalise said he opted for an “aggressive form” of chemotherapy to combat the cancer that was “doing a lot of damage” to his body. He said so far he has gone through a roughly three-and-a-half-week round of treatment followed by evaluations.
“We’re continuing to follow my doctor’s advice and my doctor said, ‘You can come back to work.’ And that’s why I’m here. And we are here for a full week of work and whatever else it’s going to take,” Scalise said.
The congressman went on to talk about how the House is moving to pass spending measures to fund various arms of the federal government. Scalise said he had been doing some work by phone, but it was “a lot nicer” doing it in person.
He had first returned to the U.S. Capitol after receiving the cancer diagnosis earlier this month, and the Associated Press noted he was seen using a motorized wheelchair to get around.
Scalise was first elected to the House in 2008 after serving in the Louisiana State Legislature for more than a decade. He was seriously wounded during a shooting at a congressional baseball practice in the summer of 2017 but managed to recover, continue serving in Congress, and even participate in future congressional baseball games.
Upon opening the forum to questions from reporters, Scalise joked about his condition, saying, “I can run as fast as before the shooting, I guess.”
Leaning toward House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN), he added with a smile, “as Emmer would say it wasn’t that fast.”