God bless you.
Today (Monday, June 30), my wife, Joyce, and I celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.
Those are shouting numbers that remind me how blessed I am to find a woman to put up with me that long.
They don't make too many marriages like ours anymore. So ours to truly extraordinary.
Right now, it's 6:28 a.m. Sunday (June 29) as I write this entry. Some 20 feet in back of me, Joyce, my beautiful, adorable, tender and sweet Kansas City honeybabysugarpie, is power-walking on our family-room treadmill as I await my turn in our fight against fat. Around 10 a.m., we leave for Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, where Pastor Joseph Jackson has invited me to preach and I shall preach about "The Inseparable Love of God."
While I first thank God for blessing me to have Joyce put up with me as my wife for 40 years, after she had been my girlfriend for seven, I second thank God for blessing me to be alive for this day.
Just three months ago, when I was diagnosed with end-staged congestive heart failure (requiring a heart transplant), brain cancer and prostate cancer, and my heart was so weak I could not walk 10 steps, eat a meal or wash my face without stopping to catch my breath, I was scared to death for my life.
Yes, that's right.
Me, Lacy J. Banks, the fiery preacher, the Mr. Tough Guy and brave sportswriter for the Chicago Sun-Times for 36 years--I was scared. I even doubted whether I could outlive this triple dose of doom to see today.
But by the healing grace and mercy of Almighty God, the prayers of His saints, the care of competent doctors like Dr. Allen Anderson, Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam, Dr. Glenn Gerber, Dr. Brian Moran, Dr. Jim Flaherty and, now, Dr. John Alverdy, the love and care, among others, of my wife, first and foremost, and the application of my faith and common sense, I am a very impressive "healing in progress."
Now, here you are, my loyal readers and faithful prayer partners--you have accepted my invitation, through this blog, to watch God work. Through your hundreds of emailed comments and through your more than 50,000 silents hits on my blog, making it one of the tops in this distinguished big-city newspaper, you let me know that there are still a lot of caring and sharing people in the world.
God bless you.
Before I give you a more detailed update on my health situation, I want to hand out a round of thanks.
June 2008 Archives
God bless you.
God bless you.
Few things teach us the priceless value of life better than sickness and death.
Ever since doctors diagnosed me three months ago with suffering from life-threatening brain cancer, prostate cancer and end-stage congestive heart failure, I have been greatly inspired to appreciate the fact I'm still alive and being healed while so many others are playing life cheap with murder and suicide.
It reminds me of that wise saying that, in substance, says it's a shame that youth is wasted on young people.
Life is good.
Love is good.
Why aren't young people loving more so that they can live longer and better?
Indeed, we older peopl were equally guilty in our youth. Misguided by poverty, ignorance, immaturity, gangs, guns, substance abuse or hopelessness, we also ignorantly wasted many opportunities and made bad decisions that set us back.
If we had known then what we know now ,and exercised that wisdom responsibly, we would have had more money, better health, better security and more to look forward to today.
So when I view my solo suffering against the backdrop of our society's seething savagery, it moves me to echo those ol' top-hit Marvin Gaye lyrics: "What's goin' on?....Makes me wanna holler....throw up my hands."
God Bless you.
A milestone was reached today when Monica Giles and Fannie Oliver co-posted the 200th comment for this blogs.
It reads as follows:
"God bless you.
Helloooooooo Rev. Banks!
Greetings from Fannie Oliver and myself.
Loving and missing you! GOD IS GOOD AND STILL IN CHARGE!
Tell Joyce we said hello, and we will be praying for you and your family.
Banks' response: Congratulations for posting the 200th comment on this blog. Also, thanks for your prayers and best wishes.
Some four weeks ago, My 100th comment came from a reader named John: It read:
i HAVE ALWAYS ENJOYED YOUR WRITING AND MY WIFE AND I ARE BOTH ACTIVE PARTIPANTS AT THE CANCER WELLNESS
CENTER IN NORTHBROOK.IN OUR SPIRITUAL SUPPORT GROUP WE ARE VIEWING OPRAH'S INTERVIEW WITH ECKHARDT TOLLE AND READING HIS NEW BOOK..A NEW EARTH. PERSONALLY I FIND IT EXTREMELY HELPFUL TO ME. I WISH
My very first entry came from my youngest daughter Natasha. She submitted it as soon as she heard I was blogging and really didn't know she woud be the first. Here was her entry:
"I am very excited about the blog. This will be groundbreaking. I love you and await for God's healing."
God bless you.
Attending Game 5 of the NBA Finals Sunday night in Los Angeles was a relative paradise because it was like old times without having to work and sweat deadlines and it was enjoyed, for the first time, with my wife Joyce as we were special guests of the NBA and the Lakers, who won 103-98 and now trail 3-2 in the best-of-seven series which returns to Boston for sixth and, if necessary, seventh game.
My wife accompanied me for two reasons. First, she's very sensitive about my health issues and wanted to be by my side, instead of 1,735 miles away, in case something went wrong. Second, she loves California, especially Los Angeles, where we have enjoyed some of our best vacations..
We got the star treatment that started with fifth-row seats behind courtside. This enabled my wife to gleefully see the stellar likes of Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington, Sean (formerly alias "Puff Daddy") Combs, Damon Wayans and others. But the real thrills came from my fellow veteran journalists like John Jackson, Sam Smith, Michael Wilbon, Bill Walton, David Aldridge, Stephen A. Smith, Howard Beck, Marc Spears, Ailene Voisin, Helene Elliott, Ric Bucher, Brad Townsend and others who greeted me with smiling hugs as I introduced them to my wife.
"It's nice to see people still remember a dinosaur like me," I said.
"You're no dinosaur," Aldridge said to my ego's delight. "You're an icon."
In April, when doctors gave me the dire diagnosis that I had brain cancer, prostate cancer and end-stage congestive heart failure, I started making a list of things I definitely wanted to do with my wife just in case I didn't survive the summer. They included a trip to one NBA Finals, which I had covered exclusively for some 27 years for the Sun-Times, a trip back home to Kansas City so that I could take my wife to see her aging mother, and the celebration of our 40th wedding anniversary, which we already had planned last year to do in Hawaii.
"Oh don't worry," NBA veteran chief publicist Brian McIntyre told me. "You'll be seeing many more NBA Finals and we can always find you a ticket."
I am a pioneer in the diversity aspect of NBA newspaper coverage. I've not only covered the NBA for 40 years as an Ebony magazine sports editor and as a Sun-Times reporter, but the late Larry Whiteside, David Dupree and I were to the first black beat writers to cover the NBA for major American newspapers.
I also integrated the news staffs of the Kansas City Star, the Indianapolis Star and the Indianapolis News before the become the first black to work fulltime for the Sun-Times as a sports columnist and reporter. Consequently, the National Association of Black Journalists have chosen to honor me in July by presently to me its first Larry Whiteside Award when it holds its annual convention here in Chicago.
God bless you.
I thank God for my healing in progress from the life-threatening brain cancer, end-stage congestive heart failure and prostate cancer.
But I want to make it clear that I don't want God healing me for nothing. No. First, I intend to pay Him back. Yes, I don't want to just get and not give. I will pay God back by praying, preaching and praising better than I ever have.
Actually, I'm already doing those things while I'm being healed. What better way for me to show my thanks than to promote God and His Kingdom by urging people to seek Him while He can be found and to call upon Him while He is near and give Him His deserved glory.
Second, I don't want Him to heal me for doing nothing, either. Understand? I don't want to be heal just to sit and chill and selfishly and privately wallow in the thrills and frills of the healing. No, I want to be healed to get back out and enjoy life to the fullest and help make life better for others.
I get this idea from a good friend, Stan Ketcik. It was so excellent that I decided to share it with the rest of you and I want each of you to share back with the rest of us.
There is healing power in setting future goals and wishes for yourself. They fuel the drive to survive and thrive.
Here was Stan's comment:
Your journey of healing is inspirational!!! I have a suggestion. I think you should make a list
of interesting things that you would like to do for the next 15 to 20 years. The list would
consist of things you would like to do, places you would like to see, and goals that you woul
like to accomplish. I think that a list like that will help you on the road to recovery, and give you
a lot of specific things to look forward to on your road to healing. I look forward to seeing you
cover sports again, and reading your stories for many years to come. Have a phenomenal
Banks' response: Great idea, Stan! I love you mannnn! Great idea! Why didn't I think of that before? That kind of mindset fuels the survival instinct. Incentives. Visions. Aspirations. Hope. Yes, Stan, yes. I feel good about this. Here are some of my key plans and wishes for the future:
1. Get totalIy healed of my cancers and bad heart so that I can see all my doctors
shake their heads, grin and say, "Well I'll be doggone!"
2. Give (along with my wife) our daughters Noelle and Natasha away in marriage
God bless you.
Early Sunday morning, I called my baby sister in Grand Rapids, Mich., Veruynca Williams, to get additional information about our departed oldest sibling, Mrs. Maude Lee Burrell, who lost her battle with end-stage congestive heart failure in 2001.
I got more than the information I sought. I got fervent supplication as she led me in a prayer so powerful that I wouldn't be surprised if it shook both the ceiling of hell and the basement of heaven. It certainly filled my soul with joy and boosted my faith to continue my successful healing from brain cancer, end-staged congestive heart failure and prostate cancer.
Roughly four months before Maude Lee died, I had undergone a triple-bypass at the University of Chicago Hospital to address a 50 percent blockage of my main left artery. I did that to hopefully position me to avoid the end-stage congestive heart failure that, with the aid of an infection, finally killed Maude Lee three months after she had spent six futile months at the Cleveland Clinic trying to qualify for a heart transplant.
Maude Lee was 65 when she died three months before her 66th birthday. I will be 65 in August. By the healing grace of God and with my faith, common sense and the help of competent doctors, I plan to fare better. I am a healing in progress not just for my personal benefit, but for the benefit of my family members and others who may need to be encouraged and enlightened in their battles against life-threatening health issues. People like you prayer partners are helping me achieve that.
I am happy to report that I continue to feel stronger, continue to respond exceptionally well to medication and this blessing is inspiring more and more people to prayerfully join me on this healing train.
On Wednesday, I power-walked three miles non-stop in 63 minutes on my treadmill and weighed 230 afterward. That's a magnum improvement since eight months ago, my weight had shamefully reached 253 pounds, and two months ago, I could not take 10 steps, wash my face, shower or eat a meal without stopping every 30 seconds to catch my breath.
Last week, I also covered a Rush arena football game, my first assignment in more than two months. This week, I plan to drop below 230 pounds for the first time in six years. And while radioactive seeds work to dissolve my prostate cancer and my heart continues to respond well to medication, rest and consistent low-grade exercise, I will ease my way back to work.
In three weeks, I am scheduled to undergo a stress test and other examinations to confirm progress in terms of my end-stage congestion heart failure to clear me to return to work full-time. By that time, I plan to have lowered my weight to a consistent 225 and have my heart strong enough where the need for a heart transplant will be significantly minimized at the least and eliminated at the most.
God bless you.
For this entry, I want to use a live medical emergency in progress, one that is squarely associated with my situation.
I am asking Donna Pittman, a fellow passenger on this "trust train", being engineered by Jesus as we ride the track of faith straight to His Healingville, to welcome aboard a sick aunt of her girlfriend. Let's all say "hello" to Auntie by praying "May the good Lord bless and heal you, Auntie, in Jesus' name. Amen."
Let's let Donna explain the situation.
"Bless You Rev.,
I am happy to hear that you have been out and about. I was speaking to my girlfriend on yesterday and she was talking about her Aunt who is suffering pancreatic cancer. She is undergoing treatment but she seems to have given up hope. This woman has always played a big part in her church and is a lead singer in the choir. But she has given up. She complains all of the time. She speaks as if she is in her last days. The doctors have not given her up but sometimes when she goes for her treatment they can't administer it because she is too weak. I know it is hard to stay encouraged when you are going through but part of our healing comes through our outlook. If we don't expect the best, we won't receive the best. Who is it who said 'much faith, much power, little faith, little power'? I believe that. Anyway, I told my girlfriend that I was going to send her the link to your blog. She needs to hear you speak on your situation. Perhaps it will encourage her. I know it has encouraged me. I continue to lift you and your family up in prayer. Talk to you soon!"
Well, I want to talk to her right now. But first, let me call headquarters: "Dear Heavenly Father, Lord, God Jehovah, creator of heaven and earth, please speak to this dear suffering handmaiden through me. Speak words of encouragement and enlightenment that will strength her faith and her body to receive Your healing. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen."
Auntie, the easiest thing to do and the first thing the devil and death want us to do is to give up hope when we get a grim diagnosis like the one you got, involving pancreatic cancer, and the ones I got, involving brain cancer, end-stage congestive heart failure and prostate cancer.
As a fellow veteran soldier in the army of the Lord, you know that our hope, first and foremost, is in Jesus, the hope of all glory. In fact, we have given that testimony in song many times:
"My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus' name
God bless you.
Last Saturday night, I covered the Rush's electrifying 52-47 comeback win over the Kansas City Brigade. It was the first game I had covered in two months since being hospitalized and diagnosed with brain cancer, end-stage congestive heart failure and prostate cancer.
The fact that I got through the coverage successfully and did not suffer a heart attack with the way the Rush rallied back to score 17 unanswered points for the win is proof that God is healing me. My health continues to improve. Rush general manager Mike Polisky and I watched the last quarter of the game on the press room television. He had confidence all along that his team would tough it out. But most people may say that it was a game the Rush did not deserve to win.
My only difficulty was a couple of incidences of incontinence. But I fortunately was able to get to a restroom in time. Incontinence, an excruciating and often uncontrolable urge to urinate, is a popular side effect from prostate surgery. Dr. Brian Moran and others have warned me that the worse may be yet to come as the radioactive seeds increase their attacks on dissolving and dislodging the cancers that invaded my prostate.
Yes, our prayers are paying off. And I can't thank you prayer partners enough for joining me in this "healing in progress."
But what also impress me are the tons of people who have shone me love whenever I have gone out in public. At the Rush game, dozens of individual fans greeted me by name out of the blue as I moved through the arena traffic to and from the press box and press room.