RIVERSIDE, Ia. – As bouncing-off-the-walls exuberant as Dick Vitale was Saturday morning, no one had more reason to boast than Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery.
Finally, there was some good news about son Patrick.
“No further cancer,” the proud father proclaimed during the second day of the Dick Vitale Golf and Gala at the Riverside Golf and Country Club.
McCaffery said that a recent second scan showed nothing negative.
“Two Fridays ago, we got word that his second scan was clear,” McCaffery said. “That Friday was one of the best days of my life.”
Patrick, 14, had surgery March 19 – the day the Hawkeyes played in the NCAA Tournament – to remove a malignant tumor on his thyroid.
“To coach a game after your son undergoes surgery like that – my God, my respect for Fran went so high,” Vitale told reporters. “It was unbelievable.”
Patrick is doing so well these days that he’s planning to participate this week in the Iowa basketball camp. He’ll join his Iowa Barnstormers summer teammates for a series of games next weekend.
“Patrick – he’s doing very well,” McCaffery said.
The McCafferys have helped raise awareness for cancer research, with Patrick’s story resonating locally and nationally.
“The support for Patrick has been overwhelming throughout the entire state,” Fran McCaffery said. “It’s really made a difference for our family as we battled these last few months.”
Fran McCaffery’s awareness battle won’t stop. His parents died of cancer 15 years ago. Add Patrick’s situation to that, and you get a coach and a coach’s’ wife, Margaret, ready and willing to further the cause.
“Anytime Dick asks me and Margaret to be somewhere — we’re going to be there,” McCaffery said. “This is one fight that brings us all together.”
Cancer awareness – it’s a battle Vitale has fought for years.
“It’s a 24-7 battle every day,” Vitale said. “To my last breath, I’m going to beg, and I’m going to plead with people to give us money for kids battling cancer.
“Four percent of every dollar raised for cancer research goes to pediatrics. That’s absurd. I’m obsessed. Not enough is being done.”