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...with Jesus, doctors and common sense


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God bless you.

For the last 19 months, I have been asking God to either heal my sick heart or to

replace it with a healthier one through a heart transplant. He had already healed a brain

tumor, which was almost instantly declared benign. And He is applying the finishing

touches to healing me of prostate cancer.

Then on Monday, Nov. 2, 2009, after undergoing two weeks of extensive tests,

interviews and reviews of my medical records, I was approved to be a "status 2"

candidate for a heart transplant at the world-renown, highly-acclaimed non-profit Mayo

Clinic's main facility in Rochester, Minn.

Dr. Alfredo L. Clavell, veteran Mayo cardiologist, called me with the good news after

he and a dozen other doctors, including cardiac surgeons, a urologist, endocrinologist and

psychiatrist, had convened to consider the latest patch of patients applying for organ


Originally, I had wanted my procedure to be done in my Chicago hometown because

of its many conveniences with my family having lived here for 41 years and with the

presence of friends and relatives who could help my wife, Joyce, my primary caregiver,

during the critical stage of my recovery. The Chicago operation also would have been

cheaper in terms of post-operative expenses.

Unfortunately, Chicago doctors, I talked to, felt my prostate cancer diagnosis of

2008 kept me at least two more years away from heart transplant candidacy, despite the

fact that my radiation brachytherapy treatment on May 21, 2008, has since dropped my

PSA from 5.5 to .83.

Doctors at the University of Chicago Medical Center, for example, require me to have

a heart pump implanted until my PSA drops to a level they consider acceptable for heart

transplant candidacy. But nobody there would tell me what that PSA level must be when I

asked for it.

At the Mayo Clinic, however, Dr. Lance Mynderse, a urologist, determined that my

rate of progress from the brachytherapy places me in the 99th percentile of patients

expected to live at least 15 years after the that treatment for prostate cancer.

"You are a lot more likely to die from congestive heart failure or a heart attack than

from prostate cancer," Dr. Mynderse said.

In short order, the cardiologists and cardiologists at Mayo agreed with Mynderse.

Dr. Clavell added that different hospitals and doctors have different opinions on how

aggressively to treat prostate cancer, even when it is early-stage and localized as mine

was said to be after a biopsy by Dr Glenn Gerber at the UCMC.

"Prostate cancers are among the slower-growing cancers," Dr. Clavell said. "And

our knowledge and treatment of the disease have greatly improved."

Thus, since my chances of getting a heart transplant are much quicker at Mayo,

where I could maybe even have to undergo only one serious surgery, the heart transplant,

instead of two, I have chosen to go with Mayo. Moreover, Mayo is one of the top hospitals

in the world in terms of across-the-board medical efficiency.

I was extremely impressed with the thorough and speedy care I got from Mayo from

the very start. They approached and explored me as a vast, integrated team

concentrating collectively on every area of my health to make sure that their investment

of somebody else's heart in me would not be a vain one. I had to be sick enough to need

it, healthy enough to receive it and committed and disciplined enough to make the best

use of it with a heathful and healthy lifestyle.

At the Mayo, I was examined and tested by a dozen doctors specializing in

cardiology, cardiac surgery, endocrinology, urology, neurology, infectious disease,

psychiatry and general surgery.

I am especially thankful to the invaluable assistance and intervention from former

Sting owner Lee B. Stern, a 60-year member of the Chicago Board of Trade, and of

James Hodge, a Mayo executive insider and longtime friend of Stern's. Yes, it pays to

have friends in high places.

I am also thankful to the University of Chicago Medical Center and Northwestern

Memorial Hospital for providing medical records of their treatments of me to help bring

the Mayo team up to date on my overall state of health. UCMC's Dr. Valluvan

Jeevanandam performed a triple bypass on me on Feb. 14, 2001, and those grafts

remain open. Northwestern's Dr. Mark Ricciardi finally brought my runaway high blood

pressure under control and performed two stentings when there were clogging problems

in my main arteries in 2003 and 2005. UCMC's Dr. Allen Anderson also prescribed

additional medicines to help my heart successfully endure the wait for a heart transplant.

The Mayo has given me and my wife a week or two to prepare for my admission into

the hospital there for transplant preparations that will include the administrations of

medications and the possible implantation of a defibrillator (ICD) or even a heart pump if

my heart worsens while I await a healthier heart. Doctors feel that my blood type, B

positive, may affect a shorter wait.

I am presently on medical leave from the Sun-Times to undergo this treatment, which,

doctors say, is a best option for long-term survival. But I will keep you informed of my

progress as long as the Sun-Times permits me. This is a story that needs to be told to

it very end. It is a source of tremendous encouragement to countless people in need as

they struggle with their health issues and life problems.

I am in no pain or ongoing discomfort whatsoever. I simply have a weaken, diseased

heart that prevents me from doing much before fatigue and shortness of breath stops me

and has me vulnerable to a potentially fatal heart attack. I am still on medications, taking

some 25 pills a day to help keep my functioning at minimum efficiency and productivity.

But these medicines appear to have reached their limit.

God is still large and in charge. He could still move in the twinkling of an eye and

heal me to where I won't need a transplant. But receiving a heart transplant does not

discount God's healing powers. Any help we get from doctors and other scientists comes

through them but from God, in whom we all live and move and have our being.

God bless you.

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Dear Rev. Banks,
I am so happy to read your good news, close to as happy as I'm sure you are about it! Our God is indeed an awesome God! May I be so bold as to claim that while I was typing my last note to you and waiting for your response, God had already worked it out in answer to many prayers offered to His throne on your behalf. HALLELUJAH! GLORY TO GOD! I can just see you doing a holy dance in the Spirit, practicing for when your return to full and complete health will permit you to do that dance physically in the natural. I and many others will dance, standing in the gap, until you are able, offering all Praise and Honor and Glory to God for the MARVELOUS things He has done and is going to do.
Your Sister In Christ, Marie

BANKS' RESPONSE: Oh that God's grace and mercy would abound equally

for you, Marie. In the interim, be not weary in well-doing, for in due season, ye shall

reap if ye faint not. I pray that God fans and expands your faith in Him so that He

will make your joys full and send you forth rejoicing bringing in your sheaves.

Hello Rev. Banks,I'm so glad to hear everything is going well with you.I've always heard good and positive things about the Mayo Clinic.My continued prayers for you,your wife,your family and the doctors.I know God is using the doctors and working thru them to heal you.I believe God can and I know God will.The Bible says all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed,and that I do have.I'll be waiting to hear when the surgery will be.God bless you

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thank you, Marcia, for mustard-seeding with me in

faith. What began as a tragic trifecta of mountains named brain cancer, prostate

cancer and end-stage congestive heart failure is being distilled and healed down

to an harvest of thanksgiving as God continues working to make me whole.

Gradually and thankfully, God is transforming every ouch into an Aaahhhhhh. Oh

bless His name!!!!

"At the Mayo Clinic, however, Dr. Lance Mynderse, a urologist, determined that my rate of progress from the brachytherapy places me in the 99th percentile of patients expected to live at least 15 years after the that treatment for prostate cancer."

15 years? What are you going to do with all that time? I hope you're making a list of things, because you're going to need them.

For those of us following your story, this is yet another moment when we see a miracle unfolding. What a glorious outworking for you! It's even more miraculous when you consider how far the science of medicine has come that we can see a heart that has been stilled in one person prematurely be of use in prolonging the life of another. The power of divine inspiration cannot be discounted.

As for you, I hope you get a running back heart, because the Bears could sure use a guy who just refuses to be brought down. (And you'd have the added feature of being in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest running back ever.)

I trust that you will use your skills as a writer and your experience as a patient to explore the process of healing. As your story so clearly demonstrates, healing is not just a function of medicine -- it is the result of science, action, thought, and faith. In a world in which we have a pill for every ailment and surgical procedures that, only a decade or so ago, were science fiction, we can easily forget the essential contribution of faith. It need not only be faith in God or a religious philosophy; it can be the simple faith that we can beat the odds and get well.

It occurs to me, in this moment, that this may be the point of all your challenges in these past years. As things change at the Sun-Times, and in the industry in general, you have been given your unique story as a way of teaching others what you have learned of healing. There is a new assignment for you as a reporter. There is at least one book in this. And the sermons about our responsibility to the health with which we've been blessed are uncountable.

The story of your medical challenges and how you have overcome them with the help of your Lord and a thousand angels in white lab coats, green scrubs, and everyday clothes is a compelling one. Your understanding of the integration of technology, exercise, diet, attitude, and prayer is rich. And you have been given the way in which you can heal the damage done to your finances: By writing that story.

And we all know writing is a lot easier on those of us over 50 than being a running back.

BANKS' RESPONSE: His name was Hezekiah, an Old Testament Judaean

king, who multi-tasked as a social reformer, an engineer, an antiquarian, poet,

warrior, statesman, prophet and praying maniac in the finest tradition of Daniel. He

undid the dark deeds of a pagan-pimped pappy named Ahaz. He restored God's

temple to its rightful place as mission-control-central of Judah's conscience, culture

and character. He distinguished himself with uncommon valor and invaluable

victory as a war-time general and made Judah the envy of the ancient Middle East.

Then, when dying time came, conveyed to him on his sick bed by the prophet

Isaiah, son of Amoz, Hezekiah turned to his bedroom wall, whipped out his prayer

cell phone and made a long-distance, collect, telephone call straight to the throne

of a merciful, redeeming God and asked for clemency if for nothing else but for

his faithfulness' ol' time sake. God had mercy on Hezikiah and wrote him out a

cashier's check for 15 more years of life. The check was issued from Heaven's

First National Bank of Amazing Grace (you know? how sweet the sound?). And

that story ended with Hezikiah living happily 15 years after. Dr. Mynderse tells me

that studies show that in the at least 15 years from now, my weakened heart is a

lot more likely to kill me than prostate cancer. As you pointed out so eloquently,

God's grace continues to be made manifest through scientific advancement and

through our faith in Him and all the derivatives of Him to include ourselves. After

all, all our help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. What little I

have done in my life so far pales pitifully in comparison to the accomplishments

of Hezekiah. But God's life-extending blessing was not predicated on merit. Rather,

it was predicated on mercy and grace. My latest good news is the continuation of

a healing in progress. Often, as we drive the road, we come into contact with

construction or repair zones that are presented by signs announcing "Men

Working." Well, John (the) Powers (that be), as I go to and fro, I should wear a sign,

too. And mine should say, "God Working!!!" Little by little, piece by piece, vein by

vein, artery by artery, organ by organ, God is working on me. Day by day, every

step (Hallelujah!) of life's way, come what may, everything' going to be OK because

God is working ON ME! Right now! God's working on me! Right now and right

here as tears of thanksgiving fall from mine eyes, God is working on me. And my

prayer is that God work on you, too, and give you all that job, that joy, that peace,

that love, that healing and whatever else you need to make you whole not just

again, but better than ever.

Rev. Banks,
What a gracious God we serve! Glory, glory, glory be to God! I am delighted to hear your good news and I continue praying and praising as you move onward toward total recovery. I asked God to allow me to be present when you deliver a wonderfully strong, illuminating sermon about being a true witness to His power and love. I trust that God will answer my prayer but I realize that church may be filled to capacity and bursting at the seams by all the people who need and desire to hear your testimony. Thank you for being such a strong soldier in Christ and serving as an excellent role model for all of us.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thank you so much D. Drew for your kind comments.

Thank you, also, because they give me a chance to pause here for station

identification. Whatever I am and whatever I accomplish that's good is all because

of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is Jesus soldiering through me that gives me

the outward appearance of being a good soldier. But the Christ in me is the reason

for the best that I ever hope to be. That's why Jesus is all the world to me. And if

I inspire people in a positive way, thank Jesus because I am being brought to you

by the makers of heaven and earth and am intended to do nothing more than add

praise, honor and thanksgiving to God for the wonderful things He has done for

us. Any other use of my good without the expressed written consent of God the

Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost is hereby prohibited.

Hey Lacy--
I've always wondered what happened to you. I loved our classes together at KU and marvel that I was able to sing Cielito Lindo with you--remember? I also always remember when I was Laurence bound and you got on the bus in KC KS--I'm sure we raised a lot of eyebrows. I am married to the love of my life whom I think you met at one of the dances that our halls shared, and we have 2 beautiful daughters as well as 2 grandchildren who are the apples of our existence.

Apparently there are health issues with you--I will keep you in my prayers.
All my best, Mary

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thanks, Mary. I am so happy that you are so happy

with the love of your life, two daughters and two grandchildren. I married my high

school sweetheart of KCK, Joyce, 41 years ago and we have been blessed with

three daughters and five grandchildren. I seldom visit the hill even though I have

been to KCK many times because I still have three brothers living there. So I am

long overdue. But nobody can discount the priceless memories I compiled there

living in Templin Hall, a semester in the Alpha Phi Alpha house and two and a half

semesters in Battenfeld Hall. Presently, I'm in mourning over how our Jayhawk

football team built our hopes high by winning its first five and then going on a

four-game losing streak, They have no running game and a pitiful defense. But I

am still proud of our alma mater for the right reasons. We got a great education

and established invaluable relationships there.

Please know that I continue to pray for you and your family. Your decisions are made with a great deal of prayer and faith, I know. God has been so good to you (really to all of us) and you represent Him well. Your use of words, written or spoken,is a gift indeed. Over the years I, of course, have heard the story of Hezekiah, but never as presented by you on this blog. I thank Jesus for you.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Surely, God is able. His power is unlimited. His is

sufficient, His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures through all generations.

In times like these, friends like you, show me how wonderful it is to be saved and

to be part of the Christian household of faith. The prayers of the righteous like

you are availing much. I thank God for you all.

Hello Lacy, I want you to know that my thoughts and prayers are with you (first and foremost) and with Joyce. With God's will anything is possible and you are proof of that already. I have confidence that all this is just another stepping stone for you and you will come home, once again. Afterall, you know the holidays are approaching soon and well everyone needs to hear your classic line about how everyone needs to enjoy you and appreciate you because this may be... I think you know how this ends. :) Yes, your wife always shared this with me and we would just chuckle. Meeting you was such a pleasure, you and Joyce drove me home after some volunteer work at the animal shelter on 26th street, you are full of life indeed. I clearly remember you singing, talking and dancing as you drove... you cracked me up. There is only one of you my friend and you are awesome! I look forward to getting together with you and Joyce once again. Take care and God Bless. C~

BANKS' RESPONSE: How nice to hear from you, Ceci. My wife is very picky

about friendships because the would is so full of fake folk and her primary foci are

her family, her job and her Christian faith. So the few friends she has made are the

tried and the true. You are a true friend. Her saddest day on the job was the day

you left the company. I'm sure that was a tremendous loss for the company as a

whole. You, your husband and whole family to high-quality people, real caring and

sharing people. If I can shift my care to Northwestern, which I am trying to do, it

would mean I'd be home for the holidays. And as that ol' venerable song says,

Ceci, "Oh there's no place like home for the holidays. For no matter how far away

you roam, when you pine for the sunshine of a happy face, for the holidays you

can't beat home sweet home.


I am praying for your healing at the Mayo Clinic. We are about the same age. I just celebrated my 67th birthday on November 7th. I have also had some health challenges. 6 years ago I had a radical prostatectomy to treat a prostate cancer diagnosis. So far I am cancer free..Praise God. About 1 1/2 yrs ago I was hospitalized with pulmonary embolism ..both lungs. I have fully recovered and run about 5 to 6 miles a day and try to bike when the weather is nicer. I decided to retire from my job in sales/marketing and I have enjoyed my freedom. I highly recommend the books...The Joy of Not Working or How to Retire Happy Wild and Free. For those of us who decide to stop working (stress can be hazardous) there are joys to be experienced in a new lifestyle.

God Bless You!

BANKS' RESPONSE: Knowing what I now know, if I had it to do over, I would

choose the prostatectomy over brachetherapy because it enables the patient to

reach a cancer-free status much quicker. Several colleagues of mine had the same

experience you had. And although my PSA has dropped from 5.5 to .83 in 19

months, .83 still isn't cancer-free. And once one undergoes a heart transplantation

and is placed on immunosuppressants, that could trigger a reversal of remission. I

am happy for your success in your health struggles and I thank you for reaching

out to encourage me and others. Because there are also some prostatectomy

stories that had unhappy endings, nothing is guaranteed regardless of which

procedure is chosen even though the numbers favor prostatectomy. God remains

my ace in the hole. I'm trusting in Him to deliver me one way or another. Not one

way or the other because there are more than one possibility He can exercise. His

options are countless and they are what miracles are all about.

Rev. Bamks just a word of encouragement. Keep your faith and trust in God and He will direct you path. You are in my prayers each and every day. Love you from way back hope you can remember just who I am. You know me as Emma Lue (smile). God Bless you and yours.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Emma Lue? As I strole back down memory lane, the

only "Emma Lue" I ever met is the sister of my brother'in-law, Sllvester Brown, who

has been married to my sister, Lue Kuicious, for 51 years now. Lord, have mercy,

gal. You got me feeling Mississippi now. You got me feeling "down home" for sure.

And every time I meet a fellow refugee from those tough, dark years of our

Mississippi past, I salute that individual as a proud survivor. It's been probably 60

years since last I saw you. Most of all, Emma Lue, I remember your smile. Your

smile was so bright and deep that it had to make the sun jealous. I remember the

house y'all used to live in out yonder in the cotton field beside a gravel road. I

remember drinking water from your outdoor pump. Well, thanks for thinking of me

and thanks for praying for me. The Lord is good and greatly to be praised. God

bless you. Now, if you are not that same Emma Lou, you are only the second

Emma Lou I've ever run across on this planet earth.

when racism was in full bloom

Thank you for sharing your "miracle" with us. I will post an update for the readers of my prostate cancer blog and I'm sure they'll be inspired.


A project of Malecare

BANKS' RESPONSE: God bless you, Leah. Thanks for reading this blog and

for your gratitude.

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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 November 3, 2009 9:13 PM.

MAYO MOMENTS POSTPONE DATE FOR HEART SURGERY was the previous entry in this blog.


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