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.
First, I want to thank God, my primary care physician, for the systematic and miraculous way in which
He ironically--check this out--has upgraded my recovery by downgrading my health.
When my heart had become so weak from years of high blood pressure, an enlarged left ventricle
and a defective mitral valve that I was hospitalized to undergo tests for a heart transplant, God
disqualified me from the waiting list by blessing me to be diagnosed with the cancers of my brain's
pituitary gland and of my prostate. Then, in order, He blessed the brain tumor to be benign and the
prostate tumors to be limited (two), early-staged, localized and conducive for effective treatment by the
minimal-invasive procedure of brachytherapy, or the implantation of radioactive seeds.
Second, I want to thank my family. It starts with Joyce, my loving primary caregiver. She
gives me a reason for wanting to live. Then, she helps make sure that I take my medicines, keep my
doctor's appointments, watch what I eat and watch how hard I work and exercise so that I don't do too
much too soon. Then, there are my daughters Nicole Chapman, Noelle Banks and Natasha Banks, who
strengthen me and help sustain me with their love and prayers. Next, there are my five
grandchildren--Laren, David, Timothy and Nina Chapman, and Caleb Banks. They also give me lots
to live for and they pray for me and with me.
Third, I want to thank God for blessing me to have a fruitful career at a first-class newspaper
like the Chicago Sun-Times, where I have had good bosses and great fellow journalists to work with for
36 years. A lot of other papers would not allow me to run this kind of blog, where I can praise God and
preach as I report the agonies and ecstasies of battling cancer and a bad heart.
Fourth, I want to thank you readers, you prayer partners, you well-wishers and you fellow Christians
for helping me to keep my mind stayed on Jesus and to inspire me with the feeling that countless
people are behind me. This past week, for example, WLS-TV news anchorwoman Cheryl Burton, sent me
a most heart-warming, hand-written get-well card.
Fifth, I want to thank all my doctors, who have been readily accessible as well as encouraging and
competent in their care.
Now, for a most encouraging praise report and health update.
Presently, my main concern now is not my bad heart, my brain cancer or my prostate cancer. Rather,
it is an abdominal hernia. Although, I had suspected I had one for years because of pains in the area of
my lower back, lower stomach and left groin area, it was first originally spotted in an echo ultra-sound of
my stomach on April 3 at theUniversity of Chicago Medical Center and then officially confirmed Friday at
the UCMC by Dr. John C. Alverdy, the institution's world renown professor of surgery and director of its
Center for the Surgical Treatment of Obesity.
The first doctor, a younger fellow and promising apprentice, could not find it. He examined me
diligently as he had me lie on my back. He even thought it might be an herniated disc in my back, another
suspicion that I have had.
But when the inimitable Dr. Alverdy came in, he crystalized chaos into cosmos. He gloved his
hands in blue plastic rubber, had me stand and drop my shorts. Then he raised his right index
finger for emphasis and used it to prove the crevice of my left groin until he found that evasive breach
and poked it until I echoed an agonizing, but joyful, "ouch!" because he had identified the problem.
Dr. Alverdy's staff now will set up a date within six weeks for what he says will be a
minimal-invasive, out-patient operation that afterward will require a six-week recovery.
Thursday, roughly 20 hours earlier, Dr. Anderson, my UCMC cardiologist, had examined my heart
and had given me a praise report to pass on to you. After his nurse Barbara had checked me in with a
blood pressure reading of 99 over 67, a pulse rate of 47, a temperature of 97.6 Farenheit and a weight of
231 (including my three-pound baggy britches), Dr. Anderson listened to my heart from various points
on my body as I coughed and then gave me his conclusion.
"I am really pleased and impressed with the wonderful way your heart is responding to the new
medicines I've prescribed," he said. "First, I was thinking I might have to add some. But after examining
you, I believe we can decrease some of the medicines you have been taking."
Friday, Dr. Anderson's nurse called and told me to eliminate two of the nine different medicines
I had been taking daily and also decreased the dosages of a couple of those I continue to take.
Excuse me, English teacher, but ain't God good?
God bless you.