Back in 2017, Congressman Steve Scalise was shot on a Virginia ball field during Congressional baseball practice. Congressman (Dr.) Brad Wenstrup, a former combat surgeon in Iraq, ran to his rescue and applied a tourniquet (first a belt and then a military grade tourniquet) high up on Scalise’s thigh. This move likely saved his life, as did Wenstrup putting him on his side, and since he was awake having him drink fluids, since there was no intravenous yet available. 

Wenstrup recently told me that he signaled to the emergency rescue team that Scalise’s deep wound made him a priority, and he was quickly loaded onto an ambulance and taken to a helicopter, whereupon he was airlifted to the hospital. He had no pulse on admission but was miraculously resuscitated and after multiple surgeries, he fully recovered. 

Wenstrup told me that the tipoff to him that this gunshot was extremely life-threatening was “the bullet had entered around his hip area but I saw no exit wound.” This meant that the bullet had penetrated deep inside, perhaps fragmented, and not come out. Wenstrup said it brought him back, mentally, to Iraq, where one similar wounded soldier, when he made it to the operating table, was found to have severed his Iliac artery, and didn’t survive. Scalise was luckier.

But Wenstrup said it wasn’t all luck. He pointed to Scalise’s personal courage, positive attitude, and mostly his faith. Wenstrup said that Scalise has pointed to faith and divine intervention and his gratitude to God repeatedly, including in his book on the subject.


Wenstrup also pointed out to me that Scalise never blamed anyone including the Democrats for the political attacks that day whereas the Virginia Attorney General concluded that the attack by James Hodgkinson, a left wing activist, was an act of political terrorism.

Scalise’s positive attitude and courage was not only key to his recovery in 2017, it is also central to his current role as majority leader in the House (and his campaign to be Speaker), and to the new battle he is now waging and winning so far against multiple myeloma.


During my career as a physician, the terrain of multiple myeloma has changed dramatically for the better. The current five-year survival rate is over 60 percent, unheard of just twenty years ago, and it is rapidly getting even better. Stem cell transplant is commonly used following drug treatment which reduces the number of myeloma cells greatly.

The new targeted therapeutic approach that has changed the “game” includes the groundbreaking monoclonal antibody daratumumab, CAR T cell therapies where immune cells are removed from the body and modified to target certain proteins on the surface of the malignant plasma cells. (Multiple myeloma involves malignant colonies of plasma cells, the cells in the bone marrow which make antibodies). A new class of drugs known as bispecific antibodies recognize proteins (antigens) on both the myeloma cell and the patient’s own immune T cells. These antibodies have shown very promising results in clinical trials at shrink resistant cancer

Symptoms of multiple myeloma include bone pain, fractures, fatigue, weight loss, frequent infections. Steve Scalise has a lot to deal with in his treatment and recovery from this dreaded cancer. But as with his near deadly gunshot wound, I would bet on his courage, perseverance, positive attitude, and faith to bring him there. I believe he is fit to heal and fit to lead.