Working from Hospital, Sen. Barrett Hopes to Be Home by Next Week

March 23, 2018 GMT

BOSTON -- Sen. Michael Barrett is “pleased and relieved to report” he’s doing well after undergoing treatment for leukemia, he said Friday in a phone call from his room at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The room, Barrett said, has “a gorgeous view of the back of Beacon Hill and the golden dome.”

“I tell my colleagues that I can see them,” the Lexington Democrat said.

Barrett, 69, was diagnosed Feb. 12 with a rare and curable form of leukemia, acute promyelocytic leukemia. He said Friday that he hopes to be home next week and has been “able to work the entire time” he’s been in the hospital.


“It’s amazing,” Barrett said. “I was in the State House on a Tuesday, and by Thursday, I was in this room at Mass. General, and if on that Tuesday, I had run into someone with the cold or flu, my white blood cell count would have put me in a very bad way, but I just lucked out. I didn’t bleed in shaving that morning, and I didn’t run into someone with the flu at the State House that morning.”

Doctors are monitoring Barrett’s blood cell count, and once his tests show the levels have rebounded appropriately, “then I think they discharge you lickety-split,” he said.

He said he’s “in good shape” and that the cure rate for his particular form of leukemia is very high after the first 10 days.

In the roughly five weeks Barrett has been out, the Senate has held several formal sessions and caucuses, seated a new member -- Brendan Crighton of Lynn -- and resolved a simmering fight over the presidency, with Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka announcing she had lined up enough votes to become the body’s next leader.

Barrett said he participated by phone in talks about the chamber’s future leadership and has also been keeping up with his work as Senate chairman of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee.

“You can, in fact, telecommute if you’re drafting energy legislation, let’s say, or reviewing somebody else’s draft,” he said.