Doctors: Coach Pagano's leukemia in remission
Doctors who are treating Chuck Pagano for leukemia say that the Colts coach is in remission.
Pagano has been undergoing chemotherapy for several weeks and he's completed the first round of treatment. His doctors say he's in a good place in terms of his progress, although they'll continue a second round of chemotherapy.
"His good physical condition allowed him to tolerate treatment better than average and certainly his eagerness to get back and lead the team has helped," said Dr. Larry Cripe.
Cripe told Eyewitness News that Coach Pagano has begun his second round of chemotherapy and a third will follow. The goal is for Coach Pagano to fully recover by mid-January.
The doctor also said he appreciates Pagano using his fight to inspire others.
"I think he's reaching into himself for motivation and that's got to be inspiring for anyone to see; a player, a coach, or a person struggling with any sort of struggle," Cripe said.
Cancer patient and surgeon Dan Pavelka is motivated by Coach Pagano's fight.
"Football is one thing. Obviously, he is talking to his team and that's inspirational. But, when he brings up personal things, his family, it really hits home," Pavelka said.
Like Coach Pagano, Pavelka is in remission. He's battling testicular cancer. The Colts fan and Indiana native is thankful Coach Pagano is sharing his personal fight.
"Coach Pagano has so much energy. He is so positive. He is so courageous. We both started chemo at the same time. And, he is doing well and I am doing well. It just sticks with you," he said.
The coach was diagnosed in September and the revelation stunned the Colts, who are in rebuilding mode after a dismal 2011 season without Peyton Manning. Under interim Coach Bruce Arians, the team has risen to a 5-3 record, and Sunday's close game against the Dolphins saw rookie quarterback Andrew Luck throwing for 433 yards, an NFL rookie record. It was also Luck's fourth 300-plus yard passing game.
The young team is plowing ahead and so is their coach, who made a stirring locker room speech Sunday after the team's 23-20 win over Miami.
On Sunday after the game, Pagano took off his cap to reveal his bald head, and at times in a shaky voice, he addressed his adoring players who greeted him with smiles and cheers.
"I mentioned before the game that you guys were living in vision, and you weren't living in circumstances. Because you know where they had us in the beginning. Every last one of them. But you refused to live in circumstances and you decided consciously as a team and as a family to live in a vision. That's why you bring things home like you brought home today. That's why you're already champions and you're well on your way," he said.
The coach also referred to his own, ongoing battle with cancer.
"I got circumstances. You guys understand it. I understand it. It's hard to beat," he said, pausing for a moment while players murmured encouragement and cheered.
"My vision that I'm living is to see two more daughters get married, dance at their weddings and hoist that Lombardi several times...thank you so much!"
The "CHUCKSTRONG" inspirational campaign is also paying off. More than $290,000 was donated at Sunday's game to the IU Simon Cancer Center from "CHUCKSTRONG" t-shirt sales and bracelets.
Cripe says if Coach Pagano is healthy, he will be at more football games.