Rush holds special interest in Relay goal

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 12, 2005

When Ed Rush’s doctor decided to send him for further tests to determine the cause of a potassium deficiency, he never realized what would be found.

Rush, the popular and very active minister of music with First Baptist Church, was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma – a cancerous tumor in his kidney.

“It was sort of a happenstance,” Rush said. “It was shocking to everybody…I had no symptoms. I’ve always kept pretty good care of myself.”

To break the news to Rush, his physician at the time, Dr. Larry Thead, asked not only Rush to come to his office, but also Rush’s wife Bobbie and Dr. Rex Kent, pastor of First Baptist. Rush said they knew then that something was seriously wrong.

But the diagnosis didn’t upset Rush as much as Thead expected.

“It didn’t scare me,” Rush explained. “I tend to wait until all the reports are in.”

He also knew that the strides in cancer research now make it possible to successfully treat the disease in its many forms.

Such ground-breaking research is funded in large part by the American Cancer Society. To help pay for the research, the ACS sponsors its signature fund-raising event, the annual Relay For Life.

The Marengo County Relay will be held at the River Field in Demopolis Friday, May 20.

Rush may join other cancer survivors on the first lap around the field to kick off the festivities.

The Marengo County Unit of the ACS is working on a goal to raise $47,834, topping last year’s efforts of $45,000.

Teams around the county are holding fund-raising events and going door to door to increase awareness about cancer and to raise money for research, education and patient and family support.

Immediately after his diagnosis, Rush was put in the hands of a kidney specialist. They determined the best treatment was to remove the affected kidney.

At the same time, Dr. Charles Gross discovered a mysterious spot in Rush’s stomach and wanted to do a biopsy of the site. He couldn’t get enough tissue for the biopsy, so a vertical incision was made in his abdomen to remove the spot. The surgeon, Dr. Omar Smith, who was waiting to do a horizontal incision to remove the right kidney, changed his plans and used the same cut.

Because the tumor was “encapsulated in the kidney,” Rush didn’t have do go through any chemotherapy or radiation. Subsequent checkups show he remains cancer-free, and the mysterious spot on his stomach hasn’t returned.

Since the surgery Rush has taken an antioxident combination and goes for annual checkups. Doctors still can’t find the cause of the potassium deficiency, so he also takes supplements for that, too.

“I would like to say that I eat better (since he was diagnosed), but I can’t,” he grinned.

Rush said his parents and siblings have suffered from skin cancer, as he does, but none have been diagnosed with a tumor. His son Steven, however, was found to have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at about the same time Rush was found with the kidney tumor. Steven had to undergo both chemotherapy and radiation treatments, a much tougher protocol that his father, said Rush.

Rush has joined Steven at Relay For Life events in Auburn. He supports the efforts of the Marengo County ACS volunteers in their dedication to make sure other cancer patients have the same success he and his son enjoyed.