Doyle Bruson faded the big C for at least the fourth time in a life that has been littered with near fatalities. The 87-year-old “retired” poker pro had to take a break from fending off challenge requests from Doug Polk in order to have a melanoma removed.
Brunson tweeted, “Thanks to everyone that sent good wishes and prayers over my operation for melanoma. Got an all-clear from my doctor today. That was my 4th win against that cancer.”
The operation went well and follow-up tests indicate the skin cancer is completely gone. Doyle, an avowed Christian, credits God as much as the doctors. “Stood on the 91st psalm, my favorite,” he tweeted.
Psalm 91 is often called the battle psalm due to an urban legend of a WW1 unit who recited it as they marched across no man’s land. Supposedly they received no casualties in any of their engagements.
Part of the psalm reads (in the Authorised King James translation): “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; […] nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh to thee.”
One can see how reassuring a mantra that might be when facing down a melanoma. Or if one has to go to a hospital for an operation in the middle of a pandemic.
A life of near-death experiences
Doyle has more reason than most to believe in divine intervention. His first brush with cancer was in 1962, a time when chemotherapy interventions were in their infancy.
The doctors found a lump in his throat. When they cut him open they found it had spread. So they lopped out what they could, and when he woke up they gave him three months to live. Just long enough to see his child born.
When he did not go gentle into that good night on schedule the doctors followed up and found the cancer had not come back. He had dodged a bullet. A faith healer he was friends with at the time took the credit, and since then Doyle has never doubted.
When challenged on Twitter to name a miracle this was his go to reference. “I’ve got a journal that shows 10 miracles in my family. One of the 1st was when 5 doctors gave me 3 months to live. That’s 60 years ago.”
Miracle on the Vegas Strip
In Super/System 2, he talks about some of the other healthcare longshots that he attributes to God. His wife and daughter both had severe medical issues clear up on their own (a tumor and scoliosis respectively). Though Doyla, his daughter, did eventually pass from a heart defect at the age of 18.
Then there are all the times on the road when he had a gun pointed at his head.
Brunson might lean on his faith, but he is not a purely magical thinker. He still has faith in medical science too. In fact, he says he would gladly be among the first to get a Covid vaccine when it becomes widely available.
And although Psalm 91 gets top billing, he still credits doctors for his recovery.
To someone who got snarky with him saying, “I think you stood on science and the medical professionals,” he responded with typical Brusonian kindness: “obviously that was a key ingredient.”
Featured image source: Flickr