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NORTHWESTERN WILL KEEP ME HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

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God bless you.

It's simply eerie the way God keeps on blessing me in my efforts to get the best

treatments in the best ways for my end-stage congestive heart failure, prostate cancer

and brain tumor.

Thanks to God's grace, I now can have the rest of my heart care done by

the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation in Chicago, just 30 miles from my home

in Hazel Crest, instead of in Rochester, Minn., 371 miles away.

Last week, I was finally, officially placed on the heart transplant list by the

outstanding and world-renown Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. It ended some 19 months

of futility after the University of Chicago Medical Center cardiologists had determined that

I needed a heart transplant. Unfortunately, discovery of prostate cancer in the spring of

2008 quickly disqualified me from being a transplant candidate until the cancer was in

sufficient remission.

Additional medicines prescribed by UCMC's Dr. Allen Anderson and Dr. Valluvan

Jeevanandam have succeeded in retarding my heart's deterioration in the interim. They

also spared me the urgent need to have a heart pump (a Heartmate II, Left Ventricular

Assist Device) implanted in me.

But although brachetherapy, or the implantation of radiation seeds, have lowered

my prostate's PSA reading from 5.5 to .83, the UCMC, where I was hoping to have the

transplant done, still didn't feel that was enough progress. They admittedly are much

more conservative than most other hospitals in their approach to treating prostate cancer.

And while still refusing to tell me what PSA number represented sufficient progress, they

told me that I should have a heart implanted and use it "for several years" before they

would be willing to implant a new heart in me.

That's when Mayo came in. This non-profit hospital is revered by many as the best

all-round hospital in the world because of its consistency in premium medical efficiency

across the board. For example, U.S. News and World Report, ranks Mayo first in the

care of diabetes and endocrine disorders, first in digestive disorders, first in neurology

and neurosurgery and first in orthopedics and second in heart and heart surgery.


Thanks to some interventions by Lee B. Stern, former Sting owner and

the 60-year, dynamic dean of the Chicago Board of Trade, plus some help from Mayo

insider James Hodge, I was able to secure two weeks of examinations by and interviews

with an academy of some of the world's finest doctors from all over the world.

Heading my Mayo team is Puerto Rico's Dr. Alfredo Clavell, an most charming

fellow and highly distinguished cardiologist, whose wife is also on the Mayo staff. Dr.

Clavell, assisted by nurse Jody Hanson, streamlined a regimen where at least a dozen

doctors meticulously examined my past and current medical history, and each gave me

a detailed write-up of their finding to bring home with me.

The biggest breakthrough came when Dr. Lance Myderse, Mayo urologist,

determined that the degree of remission already experienced with my prostate cancer

was sufficient progress for Mayo to classify my heart as transplant-worthy. The rate of

remission already exhibited by my prostate cancer, Mynderse concluded, ranked me in

the 99th percentile of patients surviving at least 19 years after undergoing brachetheray.

Let me say that I have never been examined as thoroughly and treated as

courteously as I am being treated at Mayo. And the fact they ranked second in the world

in the successful treatment of congestive heart failure, right behind the Cleveland Clinic,

assured me that I had picked the right institution in terms of treatment.

But because my wife, Joyce, and I aren't scheduled to retire until next year,

retaining Mayo as my primary treatment provider posed some financial problems

because it would require Joyce and me to stop work and relocate.

Joyce, who works for Cushman-Wakefield, would have to take off time without pay

to be my primary caregiver. By the grace of God, I work for the Sun-Times, whose union

contract allows me six month of sick leave or disability with pay for serious medical issues

such as what I am faced with.

Mayo requires that if they implant me with a heart pump as a bridge procedure to

heart transplant, I'd have to stay there at least a month afterward for monitoring and for

any other necessary treatment. Plus, when they perform a heart transplant, they require

the patient to stay in Rochester for at least three months,

What this means is that once we relocated to Rochester, we could be there for

anywhere from two or three weeks to four, five or six months or maybe more, depending

upon how well I responded to treatment and how quickly a compatible heart can be made

available to me.

Since Cushman and Wakefield are obligated to hold me wife's job for just three or

fourth months, she would not only have to care for me without pay but also lose her job.

Moreover, if my wait for a heart or recovery from a transplant extends beyond six

months, I'd be still sick and there would be no paycheck coming in but we'd still have

bills, including a mortgage, to pay. There is also our commitment to help care for our

grandson, Caleb, whose single mother often has to work late and can't pick him up

after school.

I was all prepared to go to the Mayo Monday and be checked into their hospital

today until Northwestern Hospital responded to my query, telling me they agreed with

Mayo's findings and are willing to take up my treatment along the same lines that Mayo

was operation. That is: Heart transplant is top priority and anything else would be as a

bridge procedure with minimum lag time, if any, in between.

Dr. James Flaherty, Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation cardiologist, and Dr.

Williams Cotts, NMFF cardiac surgeon, will be heading that team through

Northwestern's famed Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. Dr. Edwin C. McGee, Jr., is

NMFF's cardiac transplant surgeon.

What this means is that I will be able to stay home (in Chicago, that is) for

the upcoming holidays and that my wife and I can save thousands of dollars and still be

able to work and maintain our wonderful home. It also means we can stay close to our

daughters, Noelle and Nicole, and their families and that I might be able to preach a

couple of times more while awaiting a new heart.

Now, ain't God good, or ain't God good?

Joyce and I are former high school sweethearts since meeting each other at

Sumner High School in Kansas City, Kan., her hometown. We have been married for 41

years and have been in love and going together 48 years. All our five kids, including

twin sons who died at birth, and five grandchildren were born in Chicago. I was born in

Lyon, Miss. But Chicago is our HOME. And as that favorite songs goes,

"Oh there's no place like home for the holidays,

'cause no matter how far away you roam

When you pine for the sunshine or a friendly face

For the holidays, you can't beat home sweet home."

With these latest developments, I asked the Mayo Clinic for time to make sure

Northwestern will agree to take over where they left off and Miss Hanson was very,

very considerate and compassionate in granting my request. So within the next few

days, I will check into Northwestern to resume treatment in preparation for a heart

transplant. If Mayo gets me one first, I can go there. If Northwestern gets one first, I

can stay here.

But since there is just a four-hour period for me to get on the operation

table as soon as a heart becomes available for me, it obviously would be easier for me

to drive 30 miles from my house to Northwestern, than it would be for me to travel 371

miles from my house to the Mayo.

God bless you.

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5 Comments

Rev. Lacy Banks

I read your recent article regarding you being placed on a transplant list. Truly you are exhibiting your faith in God. Which is encouragment for me and others, to face our trials with a spirit of hope.
My family and I will be praying for your strength and also your family as you begin this uncharted journey.



Rev. James L. Frazier
Union Hill M.B.C.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thanks, Reverend. It was also great to enjoy the

encouraging presence of your mother, Sister Veola Broyles, and your baby sister

Jean, who both brightened the congregation and the whole church auditorium with

their sunshiny smiles. Your family and mine go way, way back to the cotton fields

of my Mississippi boyhood, when your mother frequently heard my late father

preach. Mississippians know how to make and preserve lasting friendships. They

are general very down-to-earth and true-to-life people. God bless you and your

entire family, Rev. Frasier, and I appreciate your continued prayers because the

prayers of the righteous are certainly availing well for me.

God IS good. No doubt about it.

You have angels working overtime on your behalf. Back when I started reading this blog, things were quite a mess. It seemed as if you had insurmountable odds against you. But, if God is for you, who can be against you? Your faith is making you whole.

I look forward to the day when all Americans will have access to such fine quality care. It looks as if we're finally on our way to that.

One week from now, we'll celebrate Thanksgiving. It sounds as if the Banks's household will have quite a list of things for which to give thanks. Your daughter's new job will be only one. Most importantly, the family patriarch is still here and getting better all the time. How wonderful!

And that's really what it's about, isn't it? As I look for a dramatic outworking of my current challenge, I try to be conscious of those everyday miracles. Those small, quiet moments, like the sun breaking through the clouds, the sound of laughter, or that unexpected "hello" from a stranger you pass on the street. All of those little things that make you happy to be alive. They remind us that, behind the scenes of what we call life, things are arranged to give us a chance at the best life imaginable. That's God's gift to us and, as the saying goes, what we do with it is our gift to God.

I'm so happy for you and your family. Have a glorious Thanksgiving.

BANKS' RESPONSE: As one who has covered and supported me from the

very start, John, you will notice that at every hospital stop, something positive,

encouraging and progressive has occurred in aiding my healings. Doctors at

Northwestern Memorial Faculty Foundation first discovered the brain tumor and

signs of prostate cancer. Doctors at the University of Chicago Medical Center

confirmed the prostate cancer through biopsy and also added medicines that

retarded the deterioration of my heart and also recommended the brachetherapy

that started my cancer in remission. Doctors at Northwestern determined the

brain tumor is benign. Doctors at the Mayo examined me thoroughly and placed me

on the heart transplant list. Doctors at Northwestern agreed to take over where

Mayo has brought me and thus spare me the potential devastating expenses of my

wife and me having to live in a hotel 371 miles from home for several months. Now,

I have two great institutions willing, ready and able to implant me instead of one.

But with Northwestern, I can do most all this waiting in Chicago at home instead of

in a hotel in Rochester. Also, if Northwestern implants me, I won't have to spend at

least three months out of town afterward for them to closely monitor and treat me.

Hi Rev. Banks,

I just want to say that I will continue to pray for you and your family. Thank you and I praise God for you and your ministry for so many years that I had the chance to hear you speak the word of God at my church, Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, 45th place & princeton avenue. Pastor Charles Jenkins is the Pastor now and our Senior Pastor is Pastor Evans who I know that you know very well.

My personal family is going through a rough time also, my younger cousin, Nina who is a child of God, a mother of a 7yr daughter and one of the sweetest persons I know has 4th stage lung cancer. We have been praying so hard for the Lord to divinely heal and restore her back to good health. All we have is our Faith Rev. Banks and the promises of God to stand on and to keep us strong. We will not give up. We cry and are sad at times but we know what God can do also. Please keep our Nina lifted up in your prayers and we will keep you lifted up also.

God Bless you Renee Johnson & Family

Happy Thanksgiving

BANKS' RESPONSE: All miracles that we seek and secure can be distilled

down to this bare essence: the perfume of faith. So when you say that all you have

is faith in God working for you, you've said it all. That's all any of us have working

for us. We thank God for doctors, for police, for firemen, lawyers, teachers and

other skilled professionals available to help us in times of diverse adversity. But

while we get help through them, all our help comes from God. And God helps us

according to our faith in Him. I touch and agree in prayer with you for the desires

of your hearts regarding the healing for your loved ones. The household of faith

all around the world always stands ready to pool our prayers and faith for the

good of our sisters and brothers in Christ. So you are not alone, my sister. We hurt

with you and for you. Collective hurt helps. It means so much to have somebody

by your side to help you through tough situations. It means so much to have a

compassionate heart to feel your agony and compassionate ears to hear you

vent your frustrations and compassionate hands to reach out and touch and try to

help you. Besides, it is situations like these where our church membership is most

precious. Our savior commands us to care for each other, to help bear one

another's burdens and to assist each other in tangible and intangible ways. I pray

that God grants you the healing you seek and that He make your joys full in Him.

Dear Rev. Banks,
I'm writing to wish you and your family an extra special Happy Thanksgiving! At the risk of being redundant, God is truly a good God! I join the chorus in thanking Him for continued answered prayer for you and yours.

BANKS' RESPONSE: In spite of my wrongdoings and shortcomings, I have so

much to be thankful for. God has been so good to me. Better than I deserve.

Indeed, better than I'll ever know. He's blessing me behind my back, above my

head, beneath my feet and before my front, by my sides and all within me, He just

keeps on blessing me. He's blessing when I'm looking and when I'll looking. He's

blessing me whilst I sleep and whilst I'm awake. He's blessing me here, He's

blessing me there, He's blessing me everywhere. I have so much more than

I'll ever know to be thankful for at this thanksgiving time. None of us really have to

wait until Thanksgiving to take the time to be thankful for and mindful of the good

that the Lord has done, is doing and will do for us. As such, everyday is

Thanksgiving day for the redeemed of the Lord and we ought to say so.

I just want to say that I will continue to pray for you and your family. Thank you and I praise God for you and your ministry for so many years that I had the chance to hear you speak the word of God at my church, Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, 45th place & princeton avenue. Pastor Charles Jenkins is the Pastor now and our Senior Pastor is Pastor Evans who I know that you know very well.

My personal family is going through a rough time also, my younger cousin, Nina who is a child of God, a mother of a 7yr daughter and one of the sweetest persons I know has 4th stage lung cancer. We have been praying so hard for the

nike outletLord to divinely heal and restore her back to good health. All we have is our Faith Rev. Banks and the promises of God to stand on and to keep us strong. We will not give up. We cry and are sad at times but we know what God can do also. Please keep our Nina lifted up in your prayers and we will keep you lifted up also.

God Bless you Renee Johnson & Family

BANKS' RESPONSE: I'm touching and agreeing with you in prayer, Renee, for the desires of your heart regarding your loved one. God bless and keep you. Amen.

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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.

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This page contains a single entry by Lacy Banks published on November 18, 2009 3:46 PM.

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

NORTHWESTERN HOSPITAL CONFIRMS MIRACLE IN PROGRESS is the next entry in this blog.

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