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November 2008 Archives


God bless you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Today (Nov. 27) begins what I call the triple crown of holidays: Thanksgiving,

Christmas and New Year's Day. Is there a better trilogy of holidays? I don't think so. So

get out of my way and let me run, shout and dance because the Lord's sure been good to

me and I'm extremely thankful.

I'm going to enjoy these three holidays, my favorites, with special relish because of

all I've been through this year health-wise and am still going through.

There were times last spring, sisters and brothers, when I did not think I'd live to

celebrate my 40th wedding anniversary with my wife Joyce in late July.

I had gotten the diagnosis in late March that I was suffering end-stage congestive

heart failure and needed a heart transplant to save my life because my left ventricle and

defective mitral valve were damaged beyond repair. So I underwent a series of tests at

the University of Chicago Hospital to qualify me for a heart transplant. At that time, I could

not walk 10 steps without being out of breath and I was constantly tired.

But further comprehensive tests then revealed that I had brain cancer in the form

of a tumor on my pituitary gland and prostate cancer. This thus disqualified me from heart

transplant candidacy.

So there I stood in the valley of the shadows of death. On one hand, I was dying

from end-stage congestive heart failure unless I could get a miracle of a new heart or a

miracle of my old heart being healed. On the other hand, I was facing the lethal threats of

brain and prostate cancer.

Rather than cast my fate to the wind, I cast my fate with the Lord in prayer and

started this blog to chronicle what I believed would be a successful healing journey.

Many of you beautiful people, some of you suffering health issues worse than mine,

became fellow passengers on this trust train. I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise

shall continually be in my mouth.

You joined me in praying for your own healings as well as my own. Yes, we

are occasionally interrupted and assaulted with comments from atheists and sarcastic

cynics, who try to demean and discourage us. But greater is He that is within us than he

that is within the world. If God be for us--Hallelujah!--He's more than the world against us.

Never has a minority been so great as the Lord, you and me.

Immediately upon receiving my triple dose of tragic diagnoses, the Lord set out

assuring me that His grace is sufficient by making His strength perfect in the weakness of

my infirmities.

In my darkest hours, His grace shone brightest.

The first beam of heavenly sunshine came when my brain tumor was ruled benign by

Dr. Allison Harh of Northwestern Hospital.

My second ray of light came when the prostate cancer was determined by UCMC

urologist Dr. Glenn Gerber to be early-stage and localized and treatable by a minimal

invasive procedure called brachytherapy. So on May 21, Dr. Brian Moran implanted 89

medical smart weapons called radiation seeds into my prostate to dissolve the cancer.

My third burst of light came when UCMC cardiologist Dr. Allen Anderson added new

medicines to my menu that helped stabilize my failing heart while I was able to regain

stamina and strength to decrease my becoming short of breath and tired.

By the grace of God and through the help my physicians, who include Dr. Valluvan

Jeevanandam of UCMC and Dr. Jim Flaherty and Dr. Jeffrey Trunsky of Northwestern, Dr.

Kenneth Cline of Ingalls Hospital in Harvey, I've enjoyed sufficient recovery to enjoy an

anniversary vacation with my wife and then return to work a couple of months ago.

Two weeks ago, I suffered a setback when I allowed a bad cold to mutate into

pneumonia and then I had to battle some apparent gout or rheumatoid arthritis that had

me unable to walk.

In the process, I have known pains and period of deep despair worse than ever since

last March. But through it all, the Lord remained my refuge and strength and a very

present help in the time of trouble.

Through it all, God never left me alone. He prepared a table before me in the very

presence of my enemies and He anointed my head with oil.

Through it all, God even had grace and mercy upon our nation and gave us a new,

young, intelligent, competent and compassionate President up from the people in the form

of Barack Obama.

Sure, he is the first black President in American history. But most important, he's the

best of the candidates to lead this country at its most trouble time when millions of

Americans have lost their homes, their jobs, their pensions, their health insurance and

much of their peace, their joy and hope.

So on this Thanksgiving Day, I got a right to shout Hallelujah!

I got a right to praise God's name.

I got a right to cry tears of joy.

I got a right to sing my song.

I got a right to dance my dance.

I got a right to testify because I am a living testimony.

I got a right to pray a prayer of supreme thanksgiving. Fo I could have been dead,

sleeping in my grave. But the Lord God Almighty had mercy and grace on me and made

ol' death behave.

So on this blessed Thanksgiving Day, I'd just like to say

Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. For the

Lord hath done great things for me, whereas I am glad. So, please, Lord, let the words of

my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my

strength and my redeemer.

May the Good Lord bless and keep and prosper us all on this Thanksgiving Day.

Pneumonia Evicted After Unwelcomed Visit

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God bless you.

As if I didn't already have my hands, head and heart full, fighting cancer and a bad

heart, for the last two weeks I found myself under attack by a stubborn cold that mutated

into a case of pneumonia that resulted in me being hospitalized for four days at

Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago.

At times, I not only felt so bad that thought I was going to die, I wondered if all of you

would be better off if I just--you know--got out of your way and went home to glory. My

enemies certainly would welcome such transition. But you friends and prayer partners

don't seem anxious at all for me to leave until my healings become complete.

My wife of 40 years, Joyce, is one mighty, mad soul sister. She feels that I am

mainly to blame. She's probably right. She usually is.

"You came back trying to do too much too soon, Lacy," she told me with her hands

on his hips and firm outrage on her face. "You should have done a better job of easing

back into things. You still aren't totally well. I love you and I don't want to lose you. But

you must not love me because you're not doing a better job of taking care of yourself."

That's my wife unlike ever before: firm, furious and feisty. Until now, she's always

been quiet and compliant. But she's turned adamant now and says she's sick and tired

of me "not taking better care of yourself and getting more rest."

Again, in all honesty, Joyce is right in many ways. When I returned to work full-time

about a month ago, I celebrated by working 12 straight days writing from home, covering

practices and training camps and a new games before taking off to preach the funeral

of my best boyhood friend, Henry Briscoe, who died of a massive heart attack on Oct. 26

in Kansas City. I guess I wanted to prove, first to myself, that I was doing great in my

recovery.

At the time of the funeral, I had a bad cold that had cost me much of my voice. But I

toughed it out, made the trip back home to KCK and croaked out an eulogy on Nov. 1

despite being hoarse and having a sore throat. Then last weekend, I went out of town

again on a free lance assignment despite not having gotten over the cold. On Saturday,

Sunday and Monday nights, I felt the cold worsened into pneumonia symptoms of fever,

chills, sweats, fatigue, coughs and extreme congestion. When I relaxed my heart

medication for a day for an all-out attack against the pneumonia, I relieved the coughing,

the sweats and the congestion. But that allowed fluid to flood my lungs, causing

shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness and a sore chest.

So after I returned home Tuesday night, my wife marched me into Northwestern

Wednesday morning, where I was examined by Dr. Jeffrey Trunsky and admitted to the

hospital through the emergency room, where I was also treated by the likes of Dr.

Claud, Dr. Adams, then Dr. Woodrick and Dr, Vaid. Assisting them were nurses like

Annie, Robert, Kendall, Young Jung, Deanna, Luwanda and Susanna. Injections of Lasix,

a diareutic, resulted in me urinating 12 pounds of fluid within seven hours.

By the time I was admitted to my hospital room, my weight had dropped to 226.5

pounds. That marked the first time in almost 10 years that my weight had dropped

below 230 pounds. Last spring when I began my battle against cancer and congestive

heart failure, I promised to drop my weight below 230 and eventually trim down to close

to 200 pounds. But I never expected to do so through sickness.

Upon my release from Northwestern this next time, the challenge to me will be to

continue losing weight, resume regular exercise, eat more responsibly to nourish my body

losing weight and get rest when I feel tired. I already had a lot to live for in Joyce, my

daughters Nicole, Noelle and Natasha, my five grandchildren, other relatives and

friends and now there's America's new President Barack Obama. He will need you and

me to be at ourbest physically, mentally and spiritually to help him heal our nation.

God bless you.

NOTES: By the way, this has not been a perfect stay at what is considered one of

the best hospitals in America. Here are a few things that really, really disturbed me.

* During my Wednesday morning stay in the emergency room, I was given a painful

CAT scan (painful because of a mafunction in the injection of dye) that belonged to

some other patient. Hospital officials apologized, said my insurance carrier would not

be charged for the procedure and urged me to follow up and make sure that I won't be

charged.

* For whatever reason, I was listed as a diabetic, which I never have been, and fed

a vapid diabetic diet for my first two days before a correction was made.

* I was asked by seven different doctors and medical staffers to explain the medical

history and reasons that moved me to be admitted for treatment. It seems that nobody

coordinates basic information the patient gives when first admitted. So he is asked to

give this information again and again and again and again until I just refused to give it

once the seven doctor asked me at a time when I was experiencing shortness of

breath, nausea and felt on the verge of throwing up.

* After passing up breakfast, lunch and dinner because of loss of appetite on

Friday, I asked for a light fare of some cottage cheese and pineapple chunks when I

passed up lunch. I was promised the request would be considered. By 5:15 p.m., I was

still waiting for a final verdict. So my wife bought her some sugarless peach slices and

cottage cheese and let me sample some of hers.

Thank You Jesus!!!! And You Know Why.

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God bless you.

Hallelujah!

Praise the Lord!

Thank you Jesus!

For the first time in American history, a black man, Barack Obama, has been elected

President of the United States of America!!!

As a black boy born and raised in Mississippi in the 1940s, I never thought I'd ever

participate in and see this day come to pass.

My boyhood was haunted by fears of lynching by whites if we dared try to vote or

cross the segregation lines and signs to eat, drink, sit, stand, study, buy, dress, sleep,

pray, play, work or live in places restricted "For White Only."

I was born in a house across the cotton field in Lyon, Miss., a small delta town north

of Clarksdale, 70 miles south of Memphis off highway 61. We received our mail at the

post office a half mile away. I attended school in a two-room wooden building where one

teacher taught four grades in each room.

The school had no plumbing, no gas and no electricity. Each room was heated by

a pot-bellied stove in the middle of the room and it was the job of the biggest and

strongest boys in the school to chop the wood and fuel the stoves. Our toilet was a

wooden co-ed outhouse that housed a wooden bench with a hole cut in the middle of the

seat. If the line and the wait were too long, one could relieve himself in the cotton field

that surrounded the school. But that wasn't too bad because when you would squat in the

middle of a row, you had organic toilet tissue on both sides of you in the form of plush

bolls of cotton.

I lived just 15 miles fron where Emmitt Till was lynched allegedly for giving a wolf

whistle to a white woman he saw passing by. The Ku Klux Klan ruled with violence and

fear and white men, in general, occasionally killed blacks for sport.

My mother, Sarah Lorraine Banks, helped my preaching father, Rev. A. D. Banks,

keep food on the table by washing and ironing clothes for white people. The happiest

day in my life previously was the day my father moved us from Lyon to Kansas

City, Kan., a year after my mother died. And the first time I ever went to an integrated

school was when I graduated from the racially segregated, but immensely outstanding,

Sumner High School in KCK, to attend the University of Kansas.

While living in KCK, and attending KU, I participated in many civil rights

demonstrations, including the 1963 March on Washington led by St. Dr. Martin Luther

King, Jr. I once staged a one-man picketing out front of the KU administration building

as a student protesting the racism of white fraternities and sororities. At KU, I was the

first black president of the KU-Y, the school's largest student organization and I was the

only black to help represent the U.S. YMCAs in the 1964 International Workshop

Seminar in Omuta, Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

But I never thought America would progress socially and politically fast enough and

well enough for a black man to become U.S. President.

My wife, Joyce, my daughters Nicole, Noelle and Natasha, my sisters Lue Kuicious

Brown and Verynca Williams, and my brothers Rev. Jimmie Lee and Rev. Ephthallia

Banks and I all voted early to avoid the voting-day mobs.

We prayed, prayed, prayed and voted and God answered our prayers. Obama has

been elected U.S. President.

But perhaps the only thing greater than my joy of a black man being elected

President is the fact that he, by far, is the best candidate and the best chance for our

country to receive the leadership it needs to rescue us from the awful, terrible plague

of problems brought on by eight years of disastrous leadership by Republican President

George Bush.

I served as one of few black officers in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and

I integrated such previously all-white newspapers such as the Kansas City Star, the

Indianapolis News, the Indianapolis Star and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Now let's not expect too much too soon. Too much wrong has been done to our

nation by the Bush administration and their wealthy cohorts that it will take far more than

Obama to get this country and this planet back on the right track. It's going to take a

radical revision of leadership in the highest levels of government, business, religion,

education and environmental management for this country to be revived and saved.

Too many people have lost their homes, their jobs, their health insurance, their

pension, their savings, their hope and their happiness for just a new President to change

too much too soon.


Lacy J. Banks

Lacy J. Banks, 67, has been a Sun-Times sportswriter/columnist for 38 years and a Baptist preacher for 58 years. He has preached at more than 100 different churches in the Chicago area. A native of Lyon, Miss., Banks graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in French and he served three years in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Naval officer. Lacy and wife, Joyce, have been married 42 years and have three daughters and five grandchildren. Among beats Banks has covered for the Sun-Times are the Bulls, Fire, defunct Sting, Blackhawks, Wolves, Cubs, defunct Hussle, Rush, Sky, college football and basketball and pro boxing.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2008 is the previous archive.

December 2008 is the next archive.

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