Coaches never want to lose, but former Notre Dame Basketball Coach Digger Phelps scored what he considers his second biggest win of his lifetime earlier this week, when doctors told him he beat cancer again.
Last July Digger and NewsCenter 16 sat down to talk about his successful battle against prostate cancer.
Then in April, after noticing blood in his urine, he was told he had bladder cancer. He had surgery and went through a six week therapy where tuberculosis bacteria were introduced to his bladder.
Monday he got the news he is cancer free. Wednesday he showed me the hundreds of cards and letters of support and prayers he got from folks here in Michiana and across the country.
And he says early diagnosis, great doctors, his family and a man he calls a saint, Father Theodore Hesburgh, gave him the strength he needed to get through this latest challenge.
“He looked at me after he blessed me and he said, "have the courage" and boy that just floored me and those words, have the courage never left me,” explains Former Irish Basketball Coach Digger Phelps. “It just gave me the fight and the will. My wife was talking about what we should do for my birthday and I said no, the gift came Monday I don't need any present.”
Digger says the only gift he wants Thursday is a prayer of thanksgiving and prayers for everyone else currently fighting cancer.
And he isn't slowing down. He leaves in two weeks for Israel where he is coaching basketball at the Maccabiah Games, an international Jewish event where 70 teams are competing.
After he gets back he'll head back to Seattle where his former doctors, along with his local urologist, Dr. Mark Toth, will formulate his ongoing treatment. He'll be on a maintenance dose of the tuberculosis bacteria for the next two years.
Next week, in a special Medical Moment Just Before Six I'll sit down with Dr. Toth to talk about the treatment that cured Digger's bladder cancer.