On the eve of the one year anniversary of his hiring date as head coach of the Colts, Chuck Pagano is a happy man.
“I feel great, I feel awesome… Very blessed,” he said.
The last 12 months of Pagano’s life have been the stuff of fiction, but he lived it all first hand with his wife, Tina, by his side.
Just three games into the season, Pagano was diagnosed with Leukemia. Tina was the one who encouraged him to investigate his fatigue and mysterious bruises during the team’s bye week.
“At first I thought it was just from wear and tear – him playing rough… but when they came back and were very symmetrical, that’s when I felt kind of a red flag,” she said.
Pagano received his diagnosis and was hospitalized immediately. Treatment began and so too did the “Chuckstrong” movement. The outpouring of support was more than Tina could have imagined.
“I was very surprised. It was overwhelming the amount of support we got. I loved all the letters. They called him ‘Chuck’ and acted like they knew him.”
The actions of others were inspiring, but Tina says faith played an even greater role during the tough times of chemotherapy.
“It’s what got us through I think. We had our devotionals every day and had like three different things going on. We were scared, but our faith was stronger than our fear.”
One of the humorous things about Pagano’s recovery happened in front of the television. Chuck and Tina would watch Colts games together. It proved to be an eye opening experience.
“It was the first time I ever watched a game with my wife in 24 years of marriage,” said Chuck Pagano.
Apparently, Tina was a little more animated than Chuck expected.
“I looked at her like ‘Really?'”
Both are happy to have Chuck back at work now, and he’s already looking forward to next season, which he hopes will be his first full campaign as an NFL Head Coach.
And whatever happens in the next 12 months, you know the Paganos will be Chuckstrong.