INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - "If the Colts make the playoffs, the coach will be there. That I'm certain of," Dr. Larry Cripe said.
Cripe told 24-Hour News 8 that Colts head coach Chuck Pagano's leukemia remains in remission..
Cripe, the IU Health Simon Cancer Center physician heading up Pagano's treatment, said that Coach Pagano's chemotherapy is now finished, but his fight against leukemia is not yet over. The coach has to recover from his third and final round of chemotherapy, which will take about a month.
Coach Pagano has been able to do something during chemo that few leukemia patients manage to do, Cripe said.
"It's not common. But I believe the coach has improved while the chemo therapy has been going on, which is unusual," Cripe said.
If Pagano appears more robust these days, it's because he is.
"I think he really has focused on his recovery. He's doing everything he can to stay healthy and get stronger while he's being treated, and he looks that. He looks great," Cripe said.
While chemo is over, more medication is on its way.
"The next step is for him to have time to strengthen and return to his normal life. And we will then periodically resume oral medication that was designed to treat this disease as well," Cripe said.
The oral medication won't have side effects, so the coach will be able to get back to his regular life. But does that mean he'll be able to return to the sideline before the regular football season ends?
"It's a three-part question," Cripe said. "Medically, I think he could be there. He needs to assess whether personally he feels up to the challenge, as only he know the challenges. And then, I'm sure he'll have a discussion with the organization."
Sunday's come-from-behind win against Detroit made the coach happy, Cripe said. It was a great boost, he said, as the coach recovers from the final round of chemo.
"He tells me what sort of plays they run. But I'm not sure I follow him. But yeah, he was quite pleased. It's a great thing for the team, the city and the coach," he said.
Cripe said there is still a chance for complications from this final round of chemotherapy. But they are ready to fight those if they develop. But right now, he said, there's no reason to believe the coach will have anything but a smooth recovery.
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