House Republican Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., returned to the Capitol on Thursday for the first time since his cancer diagnosis and said his treatments are “going well.”
Scalise, who was diagnosed with blood cancer three weeks ago, told reporters he has begun chemotherapy and said his doctor is “encouraged” by his progress and cleared his return to work.
“Obviously a few weeks ago I got diagnosed with cancer. As you can see, my protocols are going to be a little different for the next few months because cancer, one of the many things that does is it attacks your immune system,” Scalise said as he explained why he was wearing a face mask and had asked reporters to interview him from a distance.
“I am probably about three weeks into a treatment on chemotherapy. So we’re making sure that I’m working with my doctors, my doctor Shirley signed off and be coming back today,” he added.
Scalise said he had a call Wednesday with all the House Republican committee chairs and was keeping up to date on the activities of the House as he focused on his health.
“It’s going well, we have a great team. We’re focused on the treatments, they’re going to continue to evaluate me,” Scalise said. “It’s kind of a few months process. They don’t yet know how long it’s going to be, four months, six months, but they want to continue to evaluate.”
“I thank everybody for the prayers because the prayers are giving me strength. And my colleagues even give me incredible strength and every step of the way,” he said.
Scalise was hospitalized in June 2017 after a gunman opened fire as Republicans were practicing for that year’s congressional baseball game. He was one of five people shot. The injury put Scalise in critical condition, and he did not return to the House floor until September of that year.
Last month, Scalise announced that he had been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a treatable blood cancer. His condition prompted an outpouring of well-wishes from his colleagues and supporters, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who called him a “faith-filled fighter” and wished him a speedy recovery.
Scalise said Thursday that advances in medicine will allow him to undergo outpatient treatment with chemotherapy, even from his own office at the Capitol. He also shared how his wife was the first person to notice something was wrong when he took ill in August.
“I was on the road during August recess, you’re on the road a lot. And it was really my wife who noticed I was – my appetite was dropping. I was doing a bunch of political events. And you know, I need a lunch and wasn’t even hungry for dinner. It was just kind of that feeling myself. And she’s on the phone with me, and she’s saying, Steve, this doesn’t sound right. When you come home, we’re getting some, we’re getting some tests run,” he recounted.
After a hospital visit and some tests, doctors confirmed that Scalise’s wife was right and that he had Myeloma.
“She was very stern, and she knew she could tell me better than me and, you know, sometimes you don’t listen to your body,” he shared in good humor.
Fox News’ Elizabeth Elkind and Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.