As this issue of The Memphis Flyer hit the streets Wednesday, former Flyer editor and current sports editor and director of Internet services Dennis Freeland was on an operating table undergoing brain surgery at Baptist East hospital. Over the years we at the Flyer have faced some tough deadline pressures, but this is ridiculous.

It's ridiculous that our brave, gentle friend and colleague has been dealt such a crummy hand. 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 5-year-old daughter Feroza. Instead, he's in the fight of his life.

But he's playing that hand with considerable grace. 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 e-mails, 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 back from all over the world. It is so cool."

As regular readers know, Dennis' byline has been missing from the paper for several weeks. At first he thought the headaches and problems with his vision were the after-effects of a stroke he suffered in 1999 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 possibly 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."

By Dennis' count, people of 11 different faiths have been saying prayers for him, which is appropriate in light of his past work with the interracial, interfaith Camp Anytown and long involvement with the National Conference for Community and Justice.

We join them all in wishing him our best and keeping him constantly in our thoughts and prayers.

The Memphis Flyer encourages reader response. Send mail to: Letters to the Editor, POB 1738, Memphis, TN 38101. Or call Back Talk at 575-9405. Or send us e-mail at letters@memphisflyer.com. All responses must include name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters should be no longer than 250 words.


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