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...with Jesus, doctors and common sense

September 2010 Archives

God bless you.

As I wait for my new heart, I am blessed to still be alive, blessed to not be

in ongoing pain and blessed to have competent, affordable, group-insured health


As a Christian and preacher, I am a man of faith. I believe in God and I trust

Him to continue healing me with or without the aid of modern medicine.

But as a formally-educated, veteran, newspaper reporter, I am also a man of

fact, a realist dedicated to doing his best and trusting God for the rest.

Whenever I got sick, I prayed. But I also sought help from doctors and also

used my common sense and took initiative to be an active participant in the

process of my recovery. I studied my illnesses, the medicines I was taking and their

side effects. I also got in closer tune with my body, listened to it and did what I

needed to do, as best I could, to help myself instead of calling the doctor every

time I didn't feel good.

It's alright to pray for God to feed you. But don't expect God to drop meat and

bread down from the sky into your lap or onto your dinner table without you

working to earn and acquire the money to buy food. And when you get the food,

you have to cook it, if necessary. Then you have to feed yourself or be fed by

body else to be nourished.

It's alright to pray to God for a job. But make an effort to prepare and look for

that job. Don't expect that job to look for you, make you accept it and force you to

come to work and perform.

It's alright to pray for God to heal you when you are sick. But I believe it is

foolish, cruel and even in-human for people to deny them or their loved ones life-

saving professional medical care under the excuse that all you have to do is pray

for it. Poor, innocent children have been tortured and murdered with that kind

of ignorance, arrogance and insensitivity. That's just the devil. I hate him.

My health challenges have been excruciating at times. I've already

undergone and survived three critical operations in nine years where doctors had

to saw my chest apart. I've been on life support four times. I've battled and still

am battling prostate cancer and a benign tumor on my brain. I've undergone

back surgery and hernia surgery. I've undergone life-saving defibrillation of my


But the fact I'm still here is really no credit to me. I thank and praise the

Lord for me coming this far by faith.

Needing a new heart and being on the Mayo Clinic's heart transplant list

means that my chest will have to be sawed apart at least a fourth time. It also

means that I will be on life-support again with a breathing tube jammed down

my throat. It also means I will have to have a lot of needles pushed into my

small veins, which nurses claim are too small. So they often have to stick me again

and again, claiming also that I have "rolling veins." That's not something I'll enjoy


But I want to live more. Don't you? And I don't believe I'm being greedy still

wanting to live at the age of 67. I love this thing of breathing in and out. I love

touching, feeling, tasting, thinking and hearing. For me, on the whole, life is good.

Nevertheless, I'm sure there's not many of you reading this blog who

would love to change your health for my health. A few of you, who are in pain

and have been told you are much closer to death, would gladly change. But the

great majority of you would not. And I'm very happy about that. I pray the best for

you all. I pray that you get better before I do and also better if I don't.

When my grandchildren were last brought to the hospital to see me while I

lay in a coma with that breathing tube coming out of my mouth, it scared them half

to death. And when I got well enough to come home, my youngest grandkids were

too scared to give me a hug or have me touch them. That hurt. Only after the older

ones, bless their little hearts, had touched me without being harmed did the

younger ones feel brave enough to do so, and even then reluctantly.

Now, I'm going to be honest with y'all. I feel my strength and courage

weakening a little because I am fighting other problems than health problems.

They are taking their toll. My humanity and mortality are being exposed to my utter

embarrassment and shame.

But, thank God, I know how to address that. I'm going to have to pray harder

and pray more to Him. I know that I have not been praying as hard as I should and

could. I need the Lord to increase my faith. If I don't have even a mustard seed-size

portion of faith, all the prayers in the world will avail little.

I preach to people again and again that it pays to serve Jesus and that they

should have faith in God for anything. I must do a better job of practicing what I

preach. Thanks for loaning me your shoulders to cry on a little bit. But I'll be alright

because I know the Lord is still in the prayer-hearing and prayer-answering

business. Otherwise, I would have been dead and gone long, long ago.

Yes, I'm presently getting a whipping. But I'm not whipped and, by God's grace

and mercy and my faith in Him, I won't be.

God bless you.

God bless you.

Last week, Jody Hanson, chief nurse of the Mayo Clinic's Heart Transplant

program in Rochester, Minn., informed me that there are only three patients now

ahead of me on Mayo's heart transplant list and that my prostate cancer's PSA had

dropped all the way down to .25, just a quarter of a point from so-called "cancer-


Thank you Jesus!

Thank my wife, Joyce, for sticking by me and caring for me.

Thank you readers, my friends and relatives for praying with me and for me.

Thank God, especially, for the marvelous and magnificent Mayo Clinic. This

non-profit hospital remains one of the very finest in this world.

Preimminent! Yes, the Mayo Clinic is preimminent.

Search the records, if you will, read the annual rankings by U.S. News and

World Report magazine, and you will see the Mayo Clinic ranked first or second in

most all the areas of successful medical treatment for all manner of sickness.

John Hopkins and the Cleveland Clinic are also big dogs in the hunt. But the Mayo

Clinic is the King of the kennel.

When I started blogging my fight with prostate cancer, a cancerous brain

tumor and end-stage congestive heart failure (CHF) 30 months ago (April, 20,

2008), things didn't look too good, sisters and brothers.

I needed a heart transplant because of my end-stage CHF. But I couldn't be

placed on the heart transplant list until my cancers were conquered.

So I started praying harder than ever, and I asked y'all to pray with me and

for me. Well, God got busy. And when God moves, ain't no mountain high enough,

ain't no valley low enough and ain't no river wide enough to keep God's will from

being done and His Kingdom from coming..

The first enemy to be brought under control was the brain tumor. Itt had

been discovered at Northwestern Hospital by Dr. Allison Hahr in March of 2008. By

the grace and mercy of God, within weeks, after hundreds of x-rays of my brain, that

tumor was ruled benign.

And we kept on praying........

The second enemy to be brought under control was the prostate cancer that

had been diagnosed by Dr. Glenn Gerber at the University of Chicago Medical

Center on April 10, 2010. After he took a biopsy of that tumor, he diagnosed it as

"early stage" and "localized." This meant there was still time to stop it in its tracks.

So we kept on praying.......

By the grace and mercy of God, on May 21, 2008, I received implantation of

some 89 radiation seeds by Dr. Brian Moran at the Chicago Prostate Cancer

Center in Westmont, Ill.

When my prostate tumor was first found, my PSA, which measures one's

susceptability to cancer, was 5.7, or .7 above the acceptable level.

But we kept on praying, smacked prostate cancer in the face, made it call us

by our proper names and sent it into remission.

Year by year, month by month, week by week and day by day, my prostate

cancer dropped deeper and deeper into welcomed remission.

On Nov. 5, last year, the Mayo Clinic concluded that my prostate cancer

was in sufficient remission to place me on their heart transplant list. My PSA was

aroung 2.0 at the time. Sisters and brothers, this indeed was a sign that our prayers

were still being answered and that the mighty healing hand of God was making

itself manifest in The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Can I hear somebody say "Aman." Not "Amen," the proper term. But

"Aman" the way we normally say it in church.

So we kept on praying.......

The devil then counter-attacked and struck me down, but not out, on Jan. 11

of this year with a heart attack that answered also to the name of

"cardio-genic shock." I spent 30 straight days in three different hospitals: South

Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill., Northwestern and UCMC in Chicago. I was

placed on life support twice. Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam, USMS's chief heart

surgeon, had to implant a heart pump in me on Jan. 29 to keep me alive.

But we kept on praying until I got off life support in three days, was released

from the hospital on Feb. 10, 2010, and then went through three months of

successful rehabilitation before being OKed to return to work at the Sun-Times,

where I have been working as a reporter for 38 years.

All the while, my prostate cancer continued in remission. Then last week,

Hanson told me my prostate cancer's PSA is now .25, an all-time low for me as far

as I know. That's a quarter of a point away from "cancer free."

But maybe the best news of all is that there were only three patients ahead

of me on Mayo's heart transplant list. I have been elevated on the list because of

God's grace, His blessing me to receive a heart pump and to have Type B-positive


The only thing remaining to be done before I can be upgraded from 1B to

1A for 30 days, where there would be one patient ahead of me, is to undergo a

hernia operation that should enable me to stand and walk long periods without the

pain in my groins, especially my left, and thighs forcing me to sit and rest, even with

the aid of powerful pain killers.

The hernia operation, an out-patient procedure, is scheduled for this week at

the UCMC.

I'm taking nothing for granted. Any operation can be a dangerous event.

Doctors aren't perfect. Sometimes, they mis-diagnose and sometimes they may

diagnose correctly but make a costly mistake in the operating room. The last thing

you want to hear a doctor say when you are on the operating table is "Opps!"

So, I'm praying that that goes as well as expected, too.

The Lord just keeps right on blessing me.

I don't deserve it. I don't deserve His grace and mercy. I don't deserve even

being alive right now. And I certainly don't deserve anybody's heart. They have to

make the supreme sacrifice for a heart transplant patient to get that heart to extend

his life.

I've done many wrongs in my life. I've made some terrible mistakes. I've hurt

some people, innocent people and guilty people. I've had my share of ups and

downs. But at the end of the day, I'm still here because God keeps right on blessing

me. And I'm saved by God's grace through faith that Jesus authored and finished.

I know some of you don't believe in God or any other god. Some of you

believe in good luck. Some of you believe in random chance. Some of you believe

in mind power, muscles, money, good looks, fine figure, so-called friends and other


But as for me, make mine Jesus. I respect other people's faith in whomever

and whatever they want to worship. We are blessed to be in America, where we

can pick and choose our own praying ground.

But, once more, as for me and my house, we're going to keep serving the

Lord, believing in Jesus and praising God with His Holy Ghost. I'll take my place

with the Lord's despised few. But I'll started with Jesus 58 years ago when I

accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. And I'm going through.

Will somebody hold my mule and my straw hat while I take off my shoes and

dance and shout praise to the the Lord like I'm going out of my ever-loving mind?

Now there I go again, acting all Mississippi cotton field and stuff. But I won't

apologize. This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine.

What about you?

God bless you.

Please, God, Don't Let This Be My Last Vacation

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God Bless you.

Joyce, my wife of 42 years, and I have just gotten back from our summer vacation.

Please, God, in Jesus' name I pray, don't let this be our last vacation together.

We had planned this vacation early last year, when we agreed that Joyce would retire at the end of July and that, if health and other circumstances permitted, I would retire at the end of the year.

My brain tumor, prostate cancer and end-staged congestive heart failure, for which the Mayo Clinic placed me on the heart transplant list last Nov. 5, placed fearful uncertainty on my being able to vacation with Joyce.

She can vacation all she wants now because she retired at the end of July. I couldn't because I was still working. And part of our vacation would have to be at our expense because my previous four weeks of vacation had been cut in half. Any extra vacations days would be without pay.

Then came my life-threatening 30-day hospital stay, after I had suffered a cardio-genic attack, a deadly member of the "heart attack" family. I was placed on life support twice and each time my family was called to my bedside to possibly watch me breathe my last breath.

"Is it alright to cry now?" my nine-year-old grandson, Timothy James Chapman, asked.

"You can cry if you feel like it," his mother, Nicole Chapman, said. "But what grandpa needs most of all is for us to pray for him and ask God to bring him through."

On Jan. 29, I underwent a life-saving implantation of a heart pump (Heartmate II, Left Ventricular Assist Device) at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Afterward, I was so weak I could not sit up in bed by myself. So I obviously could not stand or walk, either. I had to learn to do those all over again.

On Feb. 10, I was released from the hospital to come home as the chief recipient of answered prayers. Prayers that had been offered up to God by myself, my family and prayer partners like you.

Since then, I've been on the mend and were cleared to resume work on April 5. The company has been very helpful and understanding in not assigning me too much too soon. Some things, I still can't do too well.

* I can't climb the ramps at Wrigley Field without having to stop as rest at intervals.

* The same applies for the steep steps at Toyota Park.

* I can't stand too long for interviews before a back and legs start giving out.

* I can't run to post-game interviews as part of night-time deadline assignments.

* I can't go out on a news assignment without taking spar batteries for my heart pump, leaving extra early, taking pain pills to enable me to walk and stand long enough for interviews and always making sure I am near a rest room or a urinal.

I firmly believe that I am the only newspaper reporter handicapped in this way. But I'm still functional and my doctors agree that continuing to work is good for me mentally, physically and emotionally.

During my 45 years as a professional reporter, I have worked with reporters struggling with assorted physical handicaps. this is still the case. Some are blind. Some are paralyzed from the waist down. Some hobble around on crutches with a foot or leg in a cast. Some are in wheelchairs pushed by a caregiver. Some have battled terminal cancer to the very end until they could no longer work. Some are outfitted with pacemakers and defibrillators, artificial hips and artificial knees. Yet, they courageously go about their work as best they can and some perform better than others who have no handicap.

So I resumed preaching in Christian churches and working for the Sun-Times on April 5. For my first out-of-town assignments, I drove myself there, packed my $500,000 worth of machines that keep my heart pumping, and reassembled them in the hotels. When it was time to go out on assignment, I'd put in freshly charged batteries that would help my heart continue pumping for at least 12 hours before they need to be changed.

When Joyce and I left for vacation, I flew for the first time since being implanted with a heart pump. Because of my Premier status and an abundance of frequent flier points with United, we were about to fly first class, board the plane first, carry my heart equipment in roller luggage and store them in the overhead bends.

Because one bag weighs 25 pounds, I had to have help lifting it for the first time. Thereafter, I managed to store and remove them myself by sliding them out toward me. We went to Orlando and spent most of our time in the hotels except for when we went to a movie, went shopping or went to a restaurant.

Last year, we also went to Orlando and did Disney World with both of us riding in their motorized wheelchairs. My wife frequently crashed into me with her cart because, well, she was a bad driver.

I wasn't the first LVAD patient to fly. According to Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam, UCMC heart surgeon, who operated on me, and his assistant, Tracy Valeroso, other LVAD patients have been flying, too. One of Dr. V-J's recent LVAD implant patients flies regularly from Kuwait to Chicago for her heart care.

This information should be useful to those of you cogestive heart failure patients who may have to get a heart pump before you get a new heart. You can still work. You can still love. You can still play and you can still travel so long as you make sure you pack enough batteries to deal with an travel delays.

Yes, I was worried by serious problems other than my health during my vacaton. I've learned to pace myself and take my medicines in a manner to minimize painful side effects. There are serious pension issues yet to be resolved and that's tension, stress and anguish and anger I don't need.

But I'm blessed to be alive and as functional as I am. And it's largely, if not mostly, because of prayer. Thank you all for continuing to pray for me.

God bless you.

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 is an archive of entries from September 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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