No. 476



Did you hear about the elderly man who woke up one morning and thought he was dead? He didn't "hurt" anywhere. That's the way a new friend of mine felt a few months ago when he woke up one morning after having surgery to remove his colon. However, this man was not elderly, but rather in his 40s, which is really the prime of life.

My new friend is Phillip Van Hooser and he lives with his wife Susan and their children, Joe, Sarah and Sophie, in the small community of Princeton, Ky. Phil, as his friends call him, has just written a book that he did not want to write but felt it was one that he had to write titled, "It Takes More Than Guts." Unless you are terminally ill, this book will really make you appreciate your health.

This fantastic book is destined to help hundreds, if not thousands, of people across our nation who suffer from Crohn's Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis. These two diseases collectively have come to be known as IBD, or Inflammatory Bowel Disease. No one knows what causes it, but Phil developed the disease Ulcerative Colitis, a chronic inflammation of the lining (mucosa) of the colon and rectum. The only known cure is a complete removal of the colon. Crohn's, on the other hand, also affects the small intestine, and because of this there is no cure. According to recent statistics, there are more than a million people in our nation who suffer, and I do mean suffer, from these two debilitating diseases.

Phil is a professional speaker and leadership trainer with more than 700 clients, and many are among the top companies in the nation. He has traveled more than 150 days a year for the past several years speaking to audiences all across the country. Like so many other wonderful people, he came into my life when he wrote to me after reading this column in his hometown newspaper. He also sent me a copy of his book, "You're Joe's Boy, ain't Ya?" A few weeks later, while talking with Chip Hutcheson, the local publisher, I learned that Phil had recently been to the world famous Cleveland Clinic to have his colon removed and had written this later book, "It Takes More Than Guts." When I later e-mailed him, he said he would be happy to send me a copy.

If you suffer from Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's Disease or any other chronic illness, you have got to buy and read this book. Phil is a fantastic writer and he takes you step by step, in very minute detail, through the long painful days and sleepless nights of having stomach cramps, diarrhea and making from five to 20 trips to the bathroom. In the later stages he spent most of his time making sure there was a bathroom nearby. Like most of us hardheaded men, Phil resisted going to the doctor, but one night after finding the commode full of blood, he knew the time had come to do something about his problem. He could no longer just "tough" it out.

At the time he and his family were living in Ocala, Fla., and his family doctor sent him to a specialist, Dr. Richard Truesdale. After a complete examination, Dr. Truesdale said to Phil, "I've got some good news and I've got some bad news. The good news is that you don't have colon cancer, but the bad news is you have Ulcerative Colitis." They first treated his condition with medication, which helped for a while, but 18 months later his condition was getting worse. It was at this point that he made the decision to have his colon removed, which would require wearing an appliance or a "bag" for at least a while.

This is when the decision was made to go to the Cleveland Clinic, where they specialize in this type of surgery. After a successful surgery, he returned three months later and the "bag" was removed and the reconnect made. Today he has had to change his diet some but still eats most of the foods he enjoys. He is so grateful, like any of us would be, because as he says, "These people gave me my life back." After the surgeries he and his family moved back home to Princeton, where he has resumed his speaking schedule and Susan, who has to be a fantastic lady, stays home and takes care of their home and the business.

There were many touching moments in Phil's book, "It Takes More Than Guts," but three things stood out for me. Namely, his faith in God, the closeness of his family and the many, many friends who were there when he really needed them. Of course, you and I know the only way to have friends is to be a friend. If you would like to have copy of this deeply motivating and inspiring book, go to or contact Phillip Van Hooser at 1-270-365-1536, P.O. Box 643, Princeton, Ky., 42445.

(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034)