Original 4/30/2017: It's one of the most emotional stories Dave Calabro has covered. In fact, it brought him to tears.
Longtime friend, beloved race car driver and dedicated "giver" to the community, John Andretti, reveals to Dave that he is fighting stage 4 colon cancer.
Dave traveled to North Carolina where John and his wife live. The three spent time at home and in the hospital, where you'll see John's playful sense of humor as he sits in a hospital chair with chemo pumping into him to kill those cancer cells. "Chemo sucks a lot," Andretti says honestly with a laugh, "I don't think anybody walks out saying 'Man this is great. Give me more!'"
All Monday on Eyewitness News, Dave will share John's fight for his life and his truly positive outlook on how he will battle this cancer with the best medicine and the best mental spirit possible.
What's just as important to John is that he educates others about colon cancer screenings so it can be caught early.
-- WTHR --
UPDATE 5/5/2017: John Andretti spent more than a decade as one of auto racing's true iron men.
He started 49 consecutive IndyCar races from 1990-92 before moving to NASCAR, where he made 29 or more starts every year from 1994-2003. He was the first driver to attempt the Memorial Day double. And when his driving career was winding down, Andretti still found a way to give something back to the fans and the sport.
Now, the 54-year-old former racer is fighting for his life against stage four colon cancer that has spread to his liver.
"It's tough because me and John are close," former IndyCar driver and current team owner Michael Andretti said Thursday in Indianapolis. "It was devastating for the whole family when they got the news and on top of that it's very frustrating because it could have been prevented. If he'd gone a year ago, we wouldn't be here."
May in Indianapolis has been a family spot for the Andretti family for more than half a century.
Twin brothers Mario, Michael's father, and Aldo, John's father, first started coming to the Brickyard in the mid-1960s. In 1984, Mario found himself against Indianapolis 500 rookie Michael. John joined the family club in 1988 and after making seven straight starts, through 1994, left for NASCAR. During his absence, Mario tested a car for his injured son and Michael came out of retirement to race against his own son, Marco, in 2006. In 2007, three Andrettis - Michael, John and Marco - were back on the 33-car starting grid.
The first indication of his condition came Monday. By Thursday, team officials had scheduled a news conference with Michael and Jarett Andretti, John's 24-year-old son, to confirm a diagnosis. Their message was simple: Don't wait to get a colonoscopy.
They've even started a campaign called #CheckIt4Andretti.
Meanwhile, Jarrett Andretti said that as his father battles the side effects of chemotherapy, he has been working out, has seen the cancer cells in his blood count decline and that he remains upbeat.
John Andretti has scheduled a news conference for Monday [May 8] in Charlotte, is expected to take questions from reporters in Indy on May 18 and Michael Andretti is planning an announcement before race day, May 28, to announce what the team will do to honor his cousin.