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.