Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is going to battle for real this time. Last week, after urging from his wife during some bye week off time, Pagano sought out his doctor for a condition that has been nagging him for weeks.
During training camp, he had been extremely fatigued. But with all that goes on in the preseason and the beginning of an NFL season, it wasn’t a surprise. Then the unusual bruising showed up. Pagano brushed it off as rough housing with his grandkids or from being active on the practice field. Luckily, his wife forced him to have it checked out anyway. Once Pagano was seen by his doctor for a little while last Wednesday, he was immediately placed in the hospital. Tests were run and it was discovered he has acute promyelocytic leukemia, or APL. Leukemia is cancer of the blood in which there are several forms. APL is one of the more treatable forms of the cancer
This is a very treatable form of leukemia, however, reports saying he will miss six weeks are a little misguided. The first stage of treatment, where he will receive chemo, will last four to six weeks. Chemo is a combination of drugs used to kill the cancer cells in the system and can be very draining on a body, weakening the immune system. Since Pagano’s chemo started, he was placed in the ICU of the hospital for isolation from germs that could make him sick. He will remain in ICU until this course is over.
Depending on how his body responds will determine the course of action after the initial phase of treatment. Some patients, up to 90%, will be in remission, which is excellent news. Other patients will require another round of chemo. Once the chemo rounds are completed, up to two years of maintenance drugs will be administered to keep the leukemia from returning.
The drugs used during the maintenance phase could have side effects that prevent him from coaching from the sidelines, but they might not keep him away from the game altogether. Every person responds differently to treatment, so saying for sure when he will return would be premature. The important thing for Pagano and his family to do is to concentrate on the cancer fight and not about what is going on in the locker room. Bruce Arians was named as Interim Head Coach and will lead the Colts through the rest of the season.
For information on how you can help in the fight against cancer, for yourself, a friend or a loved one, visit cancer.org, the home page of the American Cancer Society (ACS). There are resources listed for who to contact if you need help battling the disease, what to look for if you suspect something or how you can get involved to help others in their fight. The ACS will assist any person battling any type of cancer, regardless of age, gender, location or financial status. They can also be reached at 1-800-227-2345 24/7.
Godspeed Coach Pagano. Know that many more football fans besides the Indianapolis Colts fans are cheering you on in this fight.