Two years ago today, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano walked into the IU Simon Cancer Center and his life was forever changed.
Just three games into his tenure as an NFL head coach, Pagano visited the doctor on the Colts' bye week at the urging of his wife, and they discovered that he had leukemia. This was a shock, of course, but Pagano determined to beat cancer, and he did indeed. In week seventeen, Pagano returned to the Colts' sideline, having defeated his biggest opponent, cancer. The win against the Texans that day was just an added bonus.
Two years later, Pagano is still cancer-free and has dedicated himself to, in addition to coaching the Colts, to raising money for cancer research and supporting those battling cancer. Whether it be through his annual ChuckStrong gala, his recent book "Sidelined," or other means, Pagano has raised support for cancer research. More than that, Pagano has been active in supporting those suffering from cancer. This includes (but most definitely isn't limited to) former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, current Texans offensive lineman David Quessenberry, and then today the daughter of current Bengals defensive lineman Devon Still.
Devon's daughter, Leah, is battling pediatric cancer. Yesterday, she had successful surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. It was a big step in a long process toward being cancer free for Leah, and people around the league are rallying in support.
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There was Saints coach Sean Payton buying 100 Devon Still jerseys, as part of that money benefits cancer research. There was Eagles coach Chip Kelly sending a care package to Leah. And of course, there's the Bengals players supporting Still both in person and on social media.
Then today, on the two-year anniversary of himself being diagnosed with cancer, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano talked about the Stills and their situation. "Watching that and hearing about that, it's tough," Pagano said today. "I can't imagine. It's one thing you see adults, cancer touches everybody, but when it hits a child, especially if it was your own child, you'd trade places in a minute. I know Devon would trade places in a nanosecond with his child. It's a neat deal. Thank God there's so many good people out there to support him and his family and help them get through their cancer journey."
Pagano lives every day with gratitude to the fact that he is now cancer free, and that's exactly what we all want for Leah Still as well. The NFL community has rallied around Devon and his daughter Leah, and us at Stampede Blue also send our thoughts and prayers their way.