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Digger Phelps beats bladder cancer

By By Pete Byrne (pmbyrne@wsbt.com)
Published On: Jul 02 2013 05:21:42 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 02 2013 10:41:54 PM CDT
Digger Phelps

MISHAWAKA - Digger Phelps is cancer free.  That's the good news his doctor passed along to him on Monday, following nearly two months of treatment to fight bladder cancer.

"A lot of relief," Phelps said Tuesday, in response to the news.  "Our prayers have been answered."

Phelps was diagnosed with bladder cancer in early spring during a physical.  A visit, which may have helped save his life.

"Early detection and having the courage," Phelps says were key to beating the disease.

"Fr. Hesburgh gave me one line as he blessed me before I went in for surgery.  He said, 'Have the courage'.  That stuck with me." 

Monday's news is a great early birthday present for Phelps, who turns 72 on July 4th.   

"Great love for Michiana.  I just love this community.  I love the people that I see.  They always check in to see how I'm doing, and I have to thank them.  This is a great place to live.  If you've got to have an illness, this isn't a bad area to have it because you have such a great support system in this community."

Phelps is now a two-time cancer survivor, having already beaten prostate cancer.  He plans to celebrate this latest victory, by chasing after a few more.  The winningest coach in Notre Dame basketball history will be leaving for Israel later this week to coach Team Canada in the Maccabiah Games in Israel.  Phelps was convinced to coach the 35-and over mean's basketball squad by ESPN colleague Dan Shulman, who plays on the team.