(originally posted 8-8-01) As this week's issue of The Memphis Flyer hits the streets Wednesday, former Flyer editor Dennis Freeland -- who was the first impresario of this expanded "On the Fly" website, too, and only recently gave up his duties -- will be on an operating table undergoing brain surgery at Baptist East Hospital.
We've met some tough deadlines, but this is ridiculous.
It's ridiculous that our brave, gentle friend and colleague has been dealt such a crummy hand, and that he has played it with such grace. At 45, Dennis should be in the prime of his career, happily gearing up for another football season, and enjoying the company of his beautiful wife Perveen and their five-year-old daughter Feroza. Instead he's in the fight of his life.
As Flyer readers know, Dennis's byline has been missing from the paper for several months. At first he thought the headaches and problems with his vision were the aftereffects of a stroke or possibly multiple sclerosis. No such luck.
"I have cancer and the doctors tell me it's incurable," he told his friends last week.
After the surgery, which is quite risky, he'll undergo radiation treatments and chemotherapy.
"I made the decision to have surgery based on wanting to spend more time with my family," says Dennis. "My doctor says this is the most promising time they have ever known in cancer research. The only way to treat it is real aggressively, and that is what I have chosen to do. I actually thought of doing nothing, but ultimately I had to go with the possibility of life."
Dennis is one of our best people, in every sense of the word. He's a compassionate listener, an honest writer, and a reporter who manages to be hard hitting and informative while keeping the friendship and respect of newsmakers and colleagues. He's been keeping many of them informed about his condition via emails, which he likens to casting a net in the ocean.
"Regardless of the day of the week or the time of the day, within 30 minutes your positive messages start coming in from all over the world. It is so cool."
By his count, people of 11 religious faiths have been saying prayers for him, which is appropriate in light of Dennis's past work with the interracial, interfaith Camp Anytown, which he has written about for the Flyer.
We join them in wishing him our best. (And we thank Geoff Calkins for his moving, heartfelt tribute to Dennis in Tuesday's Commercial Appeal) post-surgery report, August 9 X-INFO: INVALID TO LINE Dennis was very particular that I send out a message to you about the surgery and how it went. So here's a brief report: He went into surgery around 8:30am. The actual surgery lasted a little over 4 hours. Dr. Friedman was able to get quite a bit of the tumor and said that the surgery went well. Dennis is in the recovery room as I type this. He will be shifted to the intensive care unit when a bed becomes available. We were able to visit him for short minutes at a time. He is able to talk and see and communicate quite effectively. He wanted to let us know that he was not in pain and was not cold, that he was tired and did not want to talk much, that the only discomfort he felt was from the surgical wound, and that he just wanted to rest. And, no, he did not wake up a UT Orange fan nor a republican. We are very grateful for the successful outcome of this surgery and thank you for all your good wishes and parayers. Perveen