I want to give a shout-out  to a remarkable blog I came across while reading about the Blagojevich scandals in the Chicago Sun Times a few weeks ago.  It is called: 

”  Conquering cancer and heart failure…with Jesus, doctors and common sense”

http://blogs.suntimes.com/banks/2009/02/i_know_im_dying_children_but_i.html

This blog is written by a man named Lacy Banks, 65, who has been a columnist and sports writer for the Sun Times for 36 years.  He was their first African-American reporter.  Banks has  also been a Baptist preacher since he was 10 years old and  served in Vietnam for three years as a naval officer.  It’s definitely worth reading Rev. Banks’ bio in its entirety.

This past March, Rev. Banks went to the doctor and was simultaneously diagnosed with congestive heart failure, prostate cancer and brain cancer.  He needed a heart transplant, but because of his other illnesses, that was ruled out.  Fortunately, the brain tumor is benign.  Rev. Banks received brachytherapy (seed implants) for the PC, and fortunately, his PSA is down and holding steady.

Rev. Banks’ blog is the first I’ve seen that speaks earnestly of dying.  It is thoughtful, beautifully written and covers a lot of territory.  There are a lot of scriptures and hymns, but you don’t have to be religious to enjoy reading it.

Rev. Banks is fighting for his life, and so it would be really nice if you could say a prayer for him or stop by his blog and leave a nice comment. 

Here are some excerpts from Rev. Banks’ most recent post (Feb. 8).  He emphasizes the importance of work in his life — and death. 

“I am exercising regularly and I am pacing myself in my return to work as a Sun-Times reporter and I thank God that I have an understanding and kind boss in sports editor Stu Courtney and an outstanding employer in the Sun-Times. It has put me on the honor system and is allowing me to do the work that I feel I am capable of doing. The paper is not trying to play God or doctor. And I am not trying to play martyr or hero.

“I will share this painful memory with you, however. Three years ago, a superior of mine, perhaps in a fit of anger, told me I should retire because he felt I had slowed down physically and he knew I had undergone a triple-bypass in 2001 and still had a weak heart. ”Why don’t you retire and enjoy life?’, ‘ he said. ‘You ought to be able to do so.’ 

“Obviously, he knew nothing about my financial obligations, my need for the best health insurance and medical care available and what I could financially afford to do.

 “When other people dare to speculate and count your money, they always end up with a whole lot more than you KNOW YOU HAVE.

“Those words hurt me more than anything I had ever heard in my 36 years of working for the paper. It is true that I am no longer young. At 65, I am the oldest writer in the Sun-Times sports department and also the second longest in tenure. But I am still healthy enough to do my job. I’ve never had a heart attack. Dick Cheney has had several, as well as bypass surgery, and he was the vice president of the United States for eight years!

“Millions of Americans with congestive heart failure still work and live productive and enjoyable lives. Yes, I’m 65 years old and now officially drawing social security and I’m proud of my age. I thank God that I have lived this long.

“But even before I had a talk with the Lord and my lawyers, I knew that as long as I was healthy enough to work and, even more important, was doing my job properly, I could achieve something no black writer has yet achieved at this paper: and that is a normal retirement, not a forced one.”