Chicago Sun-Times
...with Jesus, doctors and common sense

April 2009 Archives

God bless you.

I could have kissed my doctors when they recently told me that they did not believe I

would live out the remaining eight months of this year without a Heartmate II, the latest

and most advanced heart pump that God has blessed scientists to invent.

Really. I know it sounds crazy. But faith in man may make one do one thing and faith

in God may make one do something entirely different.

Yes, I could have kissed my doctors for daring God.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think my doctors meant anything blasphemous when

they gave me what basically amounts to a death sentence. Has any of you ever

received a death sentence like that? I really believe the doctors were being totally honest

in reaching their conclusion based on their scientific data, test results, experience and


For all I know, their faith in God may be stronger than mine. For I will be honest with

you, sisters and brothers, I am not as strong spiritually as many of you think. I am not

bragging about my weaknesses. I am simply being honest in telling you that I, like

everybody else, have some. In fact, in the flesh, I have countless. But God's grace and

mercy and my faith in Him more than compensates.

Many of you readers have joined my wife and family in begging to me "get the

pump!" because you want me to live and you are speaking from the heart. You stop me

on the street and in sports arenas, telephone and e-mail me and say the same.

Yes, I want to live. I dearly want to live. In fact, my desire to live is stronger than my

fear of dying and I can charge that to my faith in God. I believe that I will survive the

end-stage congestive heart failure and my prostate cancer just as my brain tumor has

been diagnosed as benign.

As such, I fear no evil and I feel less ill as days go by. Oh, I am yet sick in terms of

the strength of my heart and what lab tests show. My doctors confirm that and I hear

them loud and clear.

But one way or another, I will win.

It will be healing or heaven.

I will be healed with or without the pump.

So what I am telling you is that my spiritual faith and physical feelings tell me that

I am not in an utterly desperate situation. I have the time and the temperament to wait

on God. I have the luxury of God's grace and mercy to tide me over in the interim.

Now, the way I am doing it is not the way I will tell everybody else to do it. I can't

speak for anybody else's faith in God but my own. And I alone really know how I am

feeling. And, to tell you the truth, I am feeling better as I continue to pray, see my

doctors, take my medicines, pace myself wisely and exercise regularly.

I am not grandstanding, trying to be some superman or pretending to be

bullet-proof. It is highly likely that after I get more information in the next few weeks or

suddenly start feeling bad again that I will call Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam, Dr. Allen

Anderson, Dr. Jim Flaherty or whoever else and say, "Let's operate as soon as possible!

Give me that pump, for goodness sake!"

But let the record show that I have told you that my doctors have given me fair

warning. So if I drop dead or suffer a crippling stroke or heart attack while still trying to

make up my mind, it is not their fault.

I am fully aware of the dangers they spelled out. I'm dealing, yes, with a deadly

situation. But in his 23rd song, King David sang, "Yea though I walk through the valley of

the valley of death, I will fear no evil for (God is) with me. (His) rod and (His) staff, they

comfort me."

I preached hard twice on Easter weekend and came out of that holy weekend

feeling stronger. While I was taking communion on Good Friday, an old woman came

up to me and chastise me for not being more bold with my faith that God is healing me

or that He already has. Here I am preaching about such faith and being wishy-washy

at the same time. I felt a little guilty. But her point was valid and well taken.

Some Christian fundamentalist feel there is compromise and that one needs not try

to seek a balance between doing what man says and what God says. But Jesus did say

to render unto Cesar the things that are Cesar's and unto God the things that are God's.

As such, we have obligations in both spheres. But at the end of the day, it's my faith in

God that will determine the outcome no matter how I dare to decorate or embroider it

with additional explanations. God is THE HEALER and all HEALING COMES FROM

GOD. Now, can I get a witness?

God bless you.

God bless you.

First, the good news. My latest blood test, taken last week at the University of

Chicago Medical Center, revealed that my PSA reading is down to 1.92, the lowest I can

ever remember it being. This means my prostate cancer continues in remission as a

result of Dr. Brian Moran's implantation of radiation seeds last May 21. My prostate PSA

cancer must be close to nothing to be placed on the heart transplant list and doctors say it

may take another year before I reach an acceptable PSA score.

Now, the bad news. My UCMC cardiology team, headed by the world-renown Dr.

Valluvan Jeevanandam, tell me that I will not likely live out this year unless I undergo an

operation to have a heart pump, particularly an Heartmate II, implanted to do the

pumping that my defective left ventricle and mitral valve are increasingly failing to do as

they continue to deteriorate.

There are eight months left in this year after this month. So the math is easy. I thank

my doctors for being upfront. That's the first thing I told them I wanted coming in.

"Don't play games with me," I said. "Be my doctors and tell me what you see and

what you feel is best for me based on your medical knowledge and skills. We are a

team. I am the CEO in terms of making the decisions."

But, I also told them as I told you: God is my real primary care physician and He

has the last word.

While the right portion of my heart is still reasonably healthy, the poor job being

done by the left portion threatens the well-being of the right. So Dr. Jeevanandam and

Anderson, his right-hand man, strongly urge that I have the heart pump implanted as

soon as possible.

The addition of Isosorbide, Hydralazine and Dobutamine medicines by Dr.

Anderson has relieved me of the shortness of breath and fatigue and enabled my heart

to hold on a little while longer as is. But this relief is said to be short-termed and Dr.

Anderson says he is very pleased that I have done this well this long with the medicines.

"But it's like flogging a dying mule to get some extra work out of it," Dr. Anderson

said candidly and calmly while flashing that occasional funny little grimace on his face.

"And you can flog that mule only so many times until it just can't work anymore."

I'm having fun dying. I jokingly told Dr. Anderson that I took offense to that analogy

because I considered myself to be a horse, even a nice stallion, if you will, instead of a

mule. We laughed. But Dr. Jeevanandam cautions that my current decision to delay the

implantation is no laughing matter.

"If the right side of your heart gets in bad shape and other vital organs get

damaged as your poor circulation worsens, the only thing we may have to offer you then

is hospice," Dr. Jeevanandam said.

Hospice is where they send the terminally ill to try to make their last days as

comfortable and manageable as possible.

Joyce, my wife of 41 years, badly and madly wants me to do whatever I have to do to

stay alive as long as possible. The same for a long-time special prayer partner who

promises to be praying for me several times a day but wishes to remain anonymous.

"I don't want to lose you," Joyce says. "I love you. And if you really love me, you'll do

what you have to do to stay alive."

Wow! What a wife! What a woman!

My daughters, Nicole, Noelle and Natasha, and my brothers Rev. Jimmie Lee Banks

and Rev. Ephthallia Banks, also urge me to have the device implanted. So do others.

But right now, I feel relatively good and I'm still praying to and trusting God to heal

me so that I won't need the pump. So I'm continuing to work and preach as my health


This Friday at 1 p.m., April 10, I am preaching at Cosmopolitan Community Church,

5249 Wabash, as part of Pastor Henry Hardy's Seven Last Words preachathon for the

33rd straight year. And Sunday afternoon, at 3 p.m., I will be preaching the usher's

anniversary sermon at Liberty Baptist Church, 4849 South King Drive, where Rev. Darrell

Jackson is pastor.

Whether those engagements will be the last times I preach on this side of Heaven

is up to the Lord.

I may change my mind within the next few months. But, I presently have not

decided to have that pump installed. I don't fancy the idea of being tethered up to an AC

cord at home, or a pair of holstered 90-minute capacity batteries when I leave home, to

keep me alive.

Yes, I want to live. And I thank God that I have the sober, sane mind to decide for

myself which way I want to live. And until I either get more information or feel the urgency

to have one implanted, I'm going to keep praying, praising and preaching.

Meantime, this Good Friday, April 10, marks the one-year anniversary when last

April 10, Dr. Jeevanandam, a medical Mozart, who says he has performed more than 650

heart transplants, and his outstanding, celebrated staff had diagnosed me with suffering

end-stage congestive heart failure that required a heart transplant to keep me alive. But I

was quickly disqualified from being a heart transplant candidate when doctors diagnosed

me with brain cancer and prostate cancer.

I immediately went deep into prayer, asked many of you to pray for me and with me

and to watch God heal me. Well, I'm still here holding on to God's unchanging hands.

Since then, I have preached 12 times and covered some 50 pro hockey and college

basketball games, including a half dozen out-of-town assignments as my health permits.

Joyce and I were also able to fulfill our wish of celebrating our 40th wedding

anniversary with a two-week vacation in Hawaii.

God is good, my wife is priceless, loving and longsuffering and beautiful readers

and prayer partners like you have been invaluable sources of hope and encouragement.

Thank you all so much for your continued prayers. And if I am an encouragement to any

of you, please don't thank me. Thank God. To God be the glory, the praise and the


My first breakthrough was when further tests, X-rays and examinations revealed that

the tumor on my pituitary gland was benign. So I have been required by doctors to take

one pill a week--Cabergoline .5 mg--to treat that tumor.

"So you can strike brain cancer off your list," Dr. Anderson said.

For my bad back and chronic gout, I also take Colchicine, Allupurinal, Prednisone

and Indomedicin daily. And for my congestive heart failure, I take Correg,

Spironolactone, Lisinopril, Furosemide, K-Dur, Digitek and aspirin daily.

In total, I take an average of 25 pills a day. But the main things that are keeping me

alive is the grace of God, the love of my wife and the prayers of family and friends like


In the next few blogs, I will interview patients who have had the heart pumps

implanted an how it hindered but also helped them tremendously. I am told that the pump

not only will keep me alive but me feel better and be strong enough to do whatever I

could do when I was in the best of health.

God bless you all.

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.



About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2009 is the previous archive.

May 2009 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.