The Richmond Register


August 25, 2013

Dr. Keen Babbage, Laura Babbage and fighting cancer

RICHMOND — We can't afford to be innocent.

Stand up and face the enemy.

It's a do or die situation. We will be invincible.

- Pat Benatar

The contemporary that I never got to meet was Steven Jobs. His career with Apple computers kicked into gear about the same time that I started my business, and he was someone I followed avidly. I've read every book, watched every interview and felt like I knew him.

I figured that we would get the chance to meet because Jobs did a terrific job of taking care of himself. He was careful about his diet, did not have bad habits and seemed programmed to live a long life.

I will not meet him. Jobs died from cancer at age 56.

Jobs was one of those reminders that cancer does not always discriminate in where it occurs.

After decades of study and trillions of dollars, we really don't know that much about cancer. We know that smoking will make you more prone to lung cancer and there are things in our environment that increase the likelihood of cancer, but we don't know why it hits a person who is doing "everything right."

At age 59, Dr. Keen Babbage is the epitome of doing "everything right."

He does not smoke or drink. He has had a lifetime of healthy eating, regular exercise and once walked over 400 miles with a baseball to kick off the beginning of the Cincinnati Reds season. He has never been overweight. He has made regular doctor visits for decades.

In short, he is the last guy who should have cancer sneak up on him. But it did. He found out the same week that his mother died.

Prostate cancer took my strong, athletic, father at age 59. He battled like a warrior, but towards the end, Dad wondered out loud about fairness. He had done everything right, and still it was not enough.

With the double whammy of losing his mother and finding that he had a rare form of nasal cancer, it would have been easy for Keen to give up. Although he knocked on heaven's door several times, he stayed on this side and eventually made it back to the place he dearly loves: standing in a classroom and teaching.

I'm helping Keen and his sister-in-law Laura Babbage write a book called “Life Lessons from Cancer.” It will be released Oct. 14 by RRP International, a publishing company which I serve as CEO and chairman. 

It's a compelling and instructional story.

Life “Lessons from Cancer” is not just about Keen. Laura Babbage and I have been friends since we were in a high school play together. She married Bob Babbage, who was best man in my first wedding and remains one of my closest friends. I know the Babbage family well and feel like they are an extension of my own.

Laura is registered nurse who served as a high-ranking health care executive and, after a midlife trip through divinity school, is now chaplain at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. She knows her way around the health care system and is a strong-willed personality who does not suffer fools gladly.

Laura is the perfect tag team partner in a fight against cancer. She knows the system, is not afraid to say what is on her mind and does not take no for an answer.

In the war against cancer, “going with the flow” will result in death. Keen and Laura prepared to dig in for a long-term fight. As Keen notes in the book, cancer will either kill you or you will kill it. Cancer is not interested in peace negotiations or shuttle diplomacy.

Keen's story is a terrific perspective from the view of someone with cancer, but another great story comes from Laura. She is a world-class caregiver and used the website CaringBridge to give frequent, if not daily, updates on Keen's treatment and blunt assessment of the situation.

The stark and honest reports, without the slightest bit of sugar coating, let those of us who care about Keen know what was going on. I read them within seconds of their being posted every day.

CaringBridge also gave a terrific, day-by-day guideline of what a world-class caregiver would do in treating a loved one. Those posts gave Laura a road map when preparing her part of the book.

“Life Lessons from Cancer” is not just the story of a cancer patient and his sister-in-law. It's the story of two extraordinary people who teach lessons that all of us will learn from.

Not just lessons about cancer, but about life and how to live it to the fullest.

Don McNay is a bestselling author and expert on what to do when you when the lottery, based in Richmond, and New Orleans.

Text Only
  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Compromise is not that simple

    It’s tempting for a casual onlooker to wonder why the Democratic House and Republican Senate can’t make what on the surface looks like the obvious compromise on pension reform.
    The Senate passed a measure based on recommendations of a task force to move new employees into a hybrid, cash-balance plan but maintain existing defined benefits for current employees and retirees.

    March 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Frankfort plays ping-pong with public pension transparency

    Legislation that would make the Kentucky Retirement Systems transparent for those paying its bills has danced into the spotlight during the 2014 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
    Passage of transparency bills filed by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, and Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, would make the “names, status, projected or actual benefit payments” subject to our commonwealth’s superlative Open Records Act.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jack Strauss-BW.jpg The case of the ghostly neighbor

    Wilbur lived in a world of fears. Everything frightened him. The full extent of his courage was to admit that he had none.
    Noises in the middle of the night, his own shadow creeping up on him and, most of all, black cats scared the wits out of him.
    So, picture his chagrin, one day, when he came home from vacation only to discover that a mausoleum had been erected on property adjacent to his home.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Provisional concealed-carry law passes Senate unanimously

    Things are staying busy in Frankfort. Many bills are making their way onto the Senate floor from various committees. This past week several important pieces of legislation were debated and passed.
    I am particularly proud of the success we had in advocating for Kentuckians’ Second Amendment rights.
    I introduced Senate Bill 106 to allow anyone who has been granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order to receive a provisional CCDW permit from the Kentucky State Police in one business day. In some of these cases, victims need this type of protection as quickly as possible.

    March 8, 2014

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg 50 years makes a world of difference

    I wasn’t in Frankfort on March 5, 1964, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and Jackie Robinson led 10,000 on a march to the state Capitol in support of a public accommodations law.
    But a few months later, I stood in front of the “Music Hall,” site of the Glasgow Junior High School located on a street named Liberty, and watched black kids “walk up the hill” of College Street on the first day of integrated schools in Glasgow.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • 02.23 Mike Duncan mug.jpg Coal has kept Kentuckians warm this winter

    This winter, temperatures across the country dipped to historic lows. Here in our home state of Kentucky, the near-arctic climate caused increased power demand which resulted in an incredible strain on the electric grid and rising energy costs.

    March 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Protecting citizens’ data is a no-brainer

    Target Corp. is learning the hard way: The price is steep for retailers who don’t protect customers’ sensitive financial information.
    Target’s profits fell a whopping 50 percent during its fourth quarter of 2013 as the result of a massive security breach involving as many as 110 million of its customers’ credit- and debit-card accounts, which began the day before Thanksgiving and extended throughout much of the holiday shopping season.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Making plans for spring planting

    My brother Keith (Keeter) probably planted peas on one of those warm days last week, and I would not be at all surprised to find out that brother Steve did likewise to try to be the first two fellows in Letcher County to actually be digging the soil in their 2014 gardens.
    Keeter’s father-in-law, the late Dock Mitchell, used to get my brother to drive him a 50-mile round trip to get pea seeds and potting soil for early February planting. Dock raised mammoth melting sugar snow peas and sugar snaps around every fence on the place. 

    February 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Cynicism, optimism both on display in Frankfort

    Those who spend little time in Kentucky’s Capitol and who read columns by cynics who cover it should be forgiven their disillusionment about how the people’s business is conducted.

    February 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Even Scrooge would enjoy library mystery

    Saturday afternoons and evenings are usually down time for Loretta and me.
    We simply don’t get out much after we’ve used up the movie gift certificates the kids gave us for Christmas. That means we mostly go to the movies to avoid guilt trips because our kids do work hard for their money.

    February 20, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Should the Richmond City Commission stop rezoning property to allow construction of apartments?

     View Results