House Majority Leader Steve Scalise has been diagnosed with “a very treatable blood cancer,” and has started treatment, he announced on Tuesday.
“After a few days of not feeling like myself this past week, I had some blood work done. The results uncovered some irregularities and after undergoing additional tests, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a very treatable blood cancer,” Scalise said in a statement.
“I have now begun treatment, which will continue for the next several months. I expect to work through this period and intend to return to Washington, continuing my work as Majority Leader and serving the people of Louisiana’s First Congressional District,” he said.
Scalise, who is 57-years old, is the second-highest-ranking Republican in the House after Speaker Kevin McCarthy. He is a major figure within the House GOP conference and has long been seen as either a potential successor, or rival, to McCarthy.
The Louisiana Republican is no stranger to health issues and adversity. He survived a shooting in 2017 at an early-morning practice ahead of a charity baseball game that left him in critical condition.
“I am definitely a living example that miracles really do happen,” Scalise said following his return to Capitol Hill.
Fellow lawmakers were quick to express sympathy and support in response to the news.
McCarthy said of Scalise in a statement, “anyone who knows him knows he’s a faith-filled fighter who can overcome any obstacle that stands in his way. I spoke with him today and he’s in good spirits, as nothing—not a gunshot and certainly not cancer—will stop him from accomplishing what he sets his mind to.”
In a tweeted statement, House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik said there is “no stronger fighter.”
“There is no stronger fighter than @SteveScalise. Steve is as tough and kind as they come, and he has beaten so many unbeatable odds. The Legend from Louisiana is beloved by his colleagues and America and we know he will fight this next battle with that same resolve,” Stefanik posted.
“We are proud to stand by to support Steve and his family as they embrace strength and faith in this next challenge,” she added.
The White House called the diagnosis “devastating news.”
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the Congressman and his family – clearly, he’s gone through a lot over the past couple of years,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during Tuesday’s White House press briefing. “That is very sad news, and clearly we are hoping for a speedy recovery for him.”
Multiple myeloma is a cancer that forms in white blood cells called plasma cells. Symptoms can include bone pain or breaks, backaches, frequent infections, anemia, weight loss and fatigue. It’s diagnosed through blood, urine, bone marrow and imaging tests. Some types of myeloma require careful monitoring, while others require active treatment.
Multiple myeloma is not considered curable, but patients can live for many years with treatment. While treatments may work early on, many patients stop responding or see their cancer progress and need to be treated with a new therapy.