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


| 9 Comments | No TrackBacks

God bless you.

A week of being examined, undergoing tests and consulting with a dozen doctors

and a dozen nurses at the fame Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., propelled me to

postpone undergoing open-heart surgery on Oct. 26 at the University of Chicago Medical

Center, where I was to have a heart pump implanted in me.

I still may undergo the implantation of the Heartmate II, either at UCMC or the Mayo

or even Northwestern within the next couple of weeks. But new information I received

from the Mayo suggest that I may already qualify for a heart transplant at their

institution. The pump would then be a short-term bridge procedure.

The UCMC said the discovery of my brain tumor and prostate canter in March of 2008

disqualified me from being placed on their heart transplant list. Although the brain tumor

was declared benign early on, Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam and Dr. Allen Anderson say I'd

have to have a very low PSA reading from my prostate cancer to get on the heart

transplant list. Unfortunately, nobody tells me what that figure must be. This UCMC has

told me that their best treatment would be the implantation of the heart pump until my

PSA drops to ???. Then I would be eligible to undergo another open-heart surgery for

a heart transplantaton.

But Mayo doctors tell me they feel that, based on the progress I've already made in

recovering from the prostate cancer, I would qualify for a heart transplant now. After being

personally examined by a dozen doctors and a dozen nurses in the areas of cardiology,

urology, neurology and general internal medicine, two breakthroughs led to my request

for postponement of the surgery to implant me with a pump.

First, Dr. Lance Mynderse, Mayo urologist, concluded that my prostate cancer

diagnosis should not prevent me from being an immediate candidate for heart

transplantation because of my rather rapid rate of progress.

UCMC doctors have said that my prostate cancer disqualified me from immediate

heart transplant candidacy and that I should have the LVAD and pacemaker-defibrilator

implanted as a bridge during a wait of two or three years while my PSA dropped to a

certain level, which you refuse to specify, acceptable for heart transplant candidacy.

But Dr. Mynderse says that since my PSA has dropped from 5.5, before my May 21,

2008, brachetherapy, to .85, as of last week, I rank in the 99th percentile of brachetherapy

patients who are expected to still be alive at least 15 years after the procedure. Yes,

that's 15 years, not five years, after brachetherapy.

"At that rate, you are a lot more likely to die from heart failure than from prostate

cancer," Dr. Mynderse said.

Second, when I shared this information of Dr. Alfredo Clavell, the Mayo cardiologist and

the overlord of my Mayo examinations, he refused to disagree with Dr. Mynderse because

Mayo has no set PSA requirement for heart transplant candidacy. What he thus

recommends is that I meet with and be examined by his full team of Mayo cardiologists

and cardiac surgeons and transplant specialists so that they can determine whether they

would put me on the heart transplant list right away than on the heart pump transplant list.

I realize that continued deterioration of my heart may still require me to have a pump

implanted. But at the Mayo, it would definitely be more of a bridge procedure rather than

a more extended destination procedure. Obviously, different hospitals have different

standards of operation. If I find a system that would require one open-heart surgery

instead of two, I would prefer that after already having had my chest sawed open twice in


I am being scheduled to return to the Mayo for three or four days of additional testing,

examination and consultation Oct. 26-Oct. 29. I will keep you posted on the results of

those tests and the conclusion of clinic's cardiac team. I am presently on vacation. But my

weakened heart is such that I can not presently perform my job as a 37-year veteran

Chicago Sun-Times newspaper reporter on a full-time basis until my health improves and

I have thus requested medical leave in my diligent efforts to save my life and restore my


Within a week, I expect to have a firm picture of my next move. Obviously, I'd

rather undergo one open-heart surgery than two. And that one would be the heart

transplant, uness the Lord heals me soon and spares me the need for either.

God bless you.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:


The Lacy J. Banks story has more twists and turns than a Hitchcock movie! But, they seem to be all good, and that's great.

This latest development seems so promising! I can see you sitting in your chair, twenty years from now, saying to your grandchildren - and, maybe, great grandchildren, "Oh yeah, I saw Jordan play. Met him, too!" And, on the shelf behind you, a copy of your best-selling book on your journey through challenge and healing.

This precarious life is not done with you yet. You are held over by popular demand. So, as always, I will keep giving thanks for your remarkable recovery, for your courage and candor in sharing it with others, and for all the good you have left to give. And I eagerly await the next surprising report.

Godspeed, Lacy.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Dear, John, give my best regards to your knees. My

lips were woefully and wonderfully indebted to the knees of legions. Great God

from Zion? You are so right in describing my ordeal as some sort of mysterious,

suspensefull, unpredictiable and even mystical odyssey. I never knew knees to

be so durable and dutiful as the knees or you and my other most fervent prayer

partners. It takes a lot to stick by somebody or something with the sticking becomes

prolonged. There is so much energy each individual has to spend on efforts in

one's life. It would be wise to prioritize as best we can. That somebody considers

me worth prayer for is a most humbling and indebting experience for me. I owe

countless shadows out there in cyperspace--people I've never met in the flesh and

never will--praying for my recovery, It's 10:55 p.m. Friday night, John, and here

comes those tears again. On top of my health issues, my wife and I have lost more

than $150,000 in the last year due to the bad economy and my loss of severence

and seniority at my job. That sum was the nut for our retirement. Now, we must

start all over again, but we're older and in ill health. Yet, when I turn and look as

princes like yourself, John--princes who are highly intelligent, eloquent,

compassionate, eager, accomplished and purely American--who have lost their

jobs and are still looking for a new one. What right do I have to complain about my

job being smashed and slashed when highly deserving Americans like yourself

still can't find agreeable employment. The bad leadership that drove our country

into these dire depths left Obama with a mighty, mighty load. There were malicious

momenta set in motion by the previous administration, and its controlling special

interest lobbyists that still have yet to bottom out. Timelines are becoming

obscured and people are now being duped into believing that these continued

problems are now Obama's fault and he has hasn't been in office for one year.

If God could heal your cancer and supply you with the path to a new heart, can't He also heal your wallet? (If He clothes the grass, which is here today...)

I know that it's stressful and difficult in these days. I sort of have the reverse situation of yours: I have no money, no job, and I pray daily that I'm not struck with a sudden illness.

But, I say what I say because I need to remember, too, that we have two advantages going for us:
1. We've got the God of Love, who created the natural world - with us in it - in a perfect way. All things in this natural world work for good.
2. We live in America. The most amazing thing about this country is that, no matter how many people have gone at it with a meat-ax and try to pervert or subvert this divine experiment with their own lust for power, it still stands. And, deep within the tenets of the ideals upon which America was founded is a healthy dose of looking out for the little guy.

The overall truth, I guess, is that change never comes easily or quickly. Whether it's change in our conditions or change in our government, it seems to take forever. But, then it all happens in the blink of an eye. Just this morning, when something the could help out my situation STILL didn't happen, I asked the eternal question, "When?" I guess the only answer is, "Not yet." It is as if God says, "I'm more patient than you, for I'm certain of the outcome."

As for our president, he seems to be holding up remarkably well in the face of the orchestrated opposition. But, we must remember, no matter how loud they are, they are not the majority, nowhere near it. And in this country, at least most of the time, the majority still rules. He's an intelligent, wise man. He'll do just fine. That he's the guy in the White House during this harrowing time is just one more thing for which we can be thankful.

BANKS' RESPONSE: All that you say is so riveting true, so enlightening and

so encouraging. So much so that the question occasions me: Art thou an angel in

disguise, John Powers, or shall I look for another? What endears me to you in a

special way is that I do not see you as a singular person. Your wisdom extends

beyond the borders of the typical mind. I see you more as a symbol of the best

part of America that is being ignored and under-appreciated. There you are: a

jewel hidden in the unemployment pile as another nameless number. But when

you speak, the universe hushes and listens carefully and with a caring spirit. You

are the most precious part of America, indeed of mankind, that the greedy

decadent on top are bent on bending and obliterating I believe in angels, John

Powers. I believe that sometime we occasion angels unawares. Indeed, heaven

warns us all to be on the lookout for angels. It cautions us to be careful how we

treat strangers because that stranger may be an angel in disguise. Your dialogue

with God is so doctrinally sound and is just the kind of exchange suffering people

need with the Lord. How loving and tenderhearted is our God! How powerful and

merciful in He! He cared enough for us to send His very best and His very best

did His very best for the worst of humanity. How excellent is the name of the Lord!

Bless His holy name forever and evermore.

Dear Rev. Banks,
John Powers is so accurate in his description of your saga. I check your blog every day for new posts always expecting to read good news, whether from you or other readers. I am rarely disappointed. Although most of them are directed at you and your situation, the sharing touches me and my life as well, encouraging me to keep on keeping on because I am not alone in this life journey and my personal challenges are mirrored by many, many others' lives. As we pray for you, you and others are praying for us, which is as it should be. It's easy to pray for people we know and love. The challenge is opening our hearts and spirits to those we don't know and lifting them in prayer before our God Who knows what they need and are asking for. That, in my book, is truly praying in faith (the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen)and according to God's will. I count it an honor and a blessing and a privilege to pray for you and your family. Writing to you has given me an opportunity to record my thoughts and feelings on certain subjects that I'm unable to articulate in other ways and with other people. It has increased my sensitivity to the Voice of the Holy Spirit and brought to my remembrance what I have been taught. Thus I leave you with this scripture, John 7:37-38, On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying,"If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." Ooooh! God is saying so much in those few lines about your situation. He will tell you what it means. Marie

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thank God for you, Marie. Thank God for your

discerning mind, your tender heart and your loving spirit. Your words stream across

the surface of my soul with the texture of silk. So smooth, comforting and pleasing

to the touch. I sense in your deep, sweet compassion the heart of the Lord. He is

everpresent in the rarest likes of you and John. And when you express yourself,

it's like hearing echoes from heaven sent to comfort my ailing body and my

troubled soul. And you are right about our prayer network. It is a powerful force in

motion. It is alive and is enriching those of us who are tapped into it. That God is

using my sickness as a rallying point of focus, bringing out the best in people, gives

me hope, not just for myself, but, for all the world. Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and

all that is within me, bless His holy name. I'm presently sitting in my cold

hotel room in Rochester, Minn., Marie and John, around 9 p.m. awaiting the

beginning of another week of tests on my failing heart and my prostate cancer.

It's so easy to feel sorry for oneself when suffering gets into the years. But when I

look at and think of you and John, my heart bubbles over with great gratitude and

joy. And in the presence of our meeting each other out here in cyberspace, I am

moved to say, "Surly, the Lord is in this place." Thanks for dropping that lush

scripture into my spirit, Marie. In my thirst for wholeness, I am drinking the Water

of Life from that Fountain that shall never run dry. It is the same Fountain that

seduced that loose woman of Samaria and turned her into an evangelist for

Jesus as she ran all around town begging everybody, "Come see a man, who has

told me everything that I have done. Is not this the Christ?" When Jesus gave her

a swig of His joy jug, she dropped her water pot as He rocked her world, blew her

mind and set her soul on fire. She went running. I said she went running, Marie.

Jesus had changed her life forever more and she has been running for Him

ever since. For once in his life, she had found a lover like noneother. For once in

her life, she had found The Man in demand. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of

the Living God. He is the solid rock upon which we stand. For all other ground is

singing sand. All other ground is sinking sand.

After three suburban hospitals, Northwestern Memorial, and four trips to the Mayo Clinic over the last few years, my brother, who has never been sick a day in his life, asked me how I was taking it. I told him that the Good Lord never gives anyone more than they can handle, and that he never got sick because he wasn't very tough. (He took issue with this after he stopped laughing.)

Mr. Banks, you are much tougher than I am, and I am in awe of the Almighty's regard for your character. I am confident that the capable minds at Mayo will find the answers you need, as they have done for me.

I pray that our merciful God will bestow blessings on you and especially on your family. I've learned that greatest suffering is often not done by the patients, but by those who love them.

The best of luck.

BANKS' RESPONSE: John Bennet, the Mayo Clinic is not ranked one of the

world's over-all best hospitals for nothing. I have been tremendously impressed

by its attention to detail and its commitment to help its patients live as long and as

well as possible. That I was diagnosed with localized and early-stage prostate

cancer 20 months ago is not being held against me because of the impressive

recovery I've been making since undergoing brachetherapy, or radiation seeds

implantation, 19 months. My PSA dropped from 5.5 to .83. Mayo doctors are more

concerned with the health issue that is most life-threatening and that is my

end-stage congestive heart failure. They test their patients extensively, get results

quickly, their various medical departments work together and they give patients

a detailed writeup of whatever they find and whatever they conclude from what

they found. No wonder patients from all over the world come to the Mayo for all

kinds of health issues. The hospital is outstanding in a wide variety of medical

disciplines and specialties.

Hello Rev. Banks,
It is really great news to hear there is a chance for you to have the heart transplant surgery instead of having to have the pump implanted first then possibly having the heart transplant surgery later.After having already gone thru 2 heart surgeryes you know the time it takes to recover.My thoughts and prayers are with you,your wife ,family and all of your doctors.As God sits on the throne watching over you,healing you.I know he is working thru and using the doctors God given talents and skills to give you the best medical care.My pastor and father Rev.Dr. Leonard De Ville,my church Alpha Temple M.B. Church and myself will continue to lift you up in prayers.To God be the glory for all that he has done.
Yours in Christ Marcia

BANKS' RESPONSE: Marcia, I want God to get glory out of every ouch and

out of every postponement, every good report and anything else that is part of the

healing process. I am trying my best to get the best treatment. Some doctors are

better than others. Some hospitals are more advanced than others. The challenge

is for each patient to determine which doctor and hospital is best for him and his

effort regain wholeness of health. Few doctors will admit there is somebody better

than he and then refer you to him. In most cases, each doctor is out for himself,

for his hospital and for the pharmaceutical company whose pills he is pushing. I

would advise every patient to become an active participant in his treatment and to

learn as much as possible about what ails him and which doctor and hospital is

good with that particular health issue. Never, never, ever be afraid to seek a

second or third opinion because it just may be that second or third opinion that will

save your life.

Mr. Banks,
I continue to read your blogs in the Dallas Fort Worth area. (I am originally from chi town). I too battle cancer but I KNOW I have the victory over this. I look forward to reading your updates as they are a source of inspiration to me. Can I please ask one thing of you; stop referring to your heart as "my failing heart". Can you just say my heart. God knows about your heart already and he knew it before you born. You have a good heart, a great heart, a new heart. Praise God. .. Looking forward to reading more..Yvonne in the DFW

BANKS' RESPONSE: You win Yvonne and you are right. My heart deserves

better in its struggles. One could say that I have failed it rather than it has failed

me. Our hearts, livers, legs, lungs, brains, joints, back and every other body part is

entitled to get old, weak and stiff like everything else. I can look back over my life

and remember many ways in which I failed my heart and forced it to work harder

to carry heavier loads. For example, Yvonne, I didn't just have to have had that

fourth piece of fried chicken, that third helping of chitterlings, that extra helping of

peach cobbler with a great big scoop of ice cream. I didn't just have to have eaten

so much sodium-heavy foods. I should have been more consistent in my exercise

programs. Still, today, it soldiers on more by the grace of God than the sagacity

of Lacy. I owe my heart an apology, a kiss, a thank-you and a salute for the things

it has been forced to endure on my behalf. Heart! Can you hear me? I'm sorry,

baby. I never meant to demean you. After all the good things you have done for me,

heart, I will never be able to pay the debts I owe you. I love you, heart, and I am

proud of you. And if, for reasons of health, I have to let you go for a replacement, I

will never ever forget you, heart. For you are my first heart and you have always,

yes, always, done the very best you could even I often put you in unfair

situations. You will always be MY heart, my God-given heart. And you will always

be one of the very best that anybody could have. You have rescued me out of

some tough situations. You gave me courage when fear tried to overcome me.

You gave me character and compassion in my dealings with other people. No,

dear heart, it is not you who has failed me. It is I who has failed you and me.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

You truly are an inspiration.

BANKS' RESPONSE: God bless you, Ellen Graham. Your few words are also

an inspiration to me. I thank God for the keen sensitivity to be able to abstract so

much good from the least little encouraged extended to me. It never takes a whole

lot of words to make somebody feel better or valuable. So thank you for inspiring


Dear Rev. Banks,
Just wanted to write a brief note to say that I am praying that this past week at the Mayo Clinic was productive and that despite the poking and prodding you likely endured, that you felt the peace of our Father through the prayers of your Brothers and Sisters in Christ. May God continue to pour out His Grace and Mercy and Blessings upon you and your family.

In Jesus'name, Amen!

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thank you, Marie, for your continued support. Your

prayers are not in vain. I have been informed by the Mayo clinic that I am being

placed on its heart transplant list this week. I will explain this in deeper detail in

my updated blog, which I will complete ad post sometime today.

If God could heal your cancer and supply you with the path to a new heart, can't He also heal your wallet? (If He clothes the grass, which is here today...)

I know that it's stressful and difficult in these days. I sort of have the reverse situation of yours: I have no money, no job, and I pray daily that I'm not struck with a sudden illness.

But, I say what I say because I need to remember, too, that we have two advantages going for us:
1. We've got the God of Love, who created the natural world - with us in it - in a perfect way. All things in this natural world work for good.
2. We live in America. The most amazing thing about this country is that, no matter how many people have gone at it with a meat-ax and try to pervert or subvert this
all star shoes divine experiment with their own lust for power, it still stands. And, deep within the tenets of the ideals upon which America was founded is a healthy dose of looking out for the little guy.

BANKS RESPONSE: Few could have said it better than what you just said. They are words of maturity and faith. God bless you. your faith in God will make you whole. And when He does heal you, go back to that little child's faith of the heart and thank Him. Until then, keep your faith in God and your hand in his hands.

Leave a comment

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 Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lacy Banks published on October 22, 2009 1:11 PM.

THE PUMP GAVE JESSIE RAMIREZ' FAMILY A LIFETIME OF JOY was the previous entry in this blog.

MAYO CLINIC COMES THROUGH FOR MY HEART'S SAKE is the next entry in this blog.

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