It was almost 7 years ago: Oct. 16, 2004 to be precise. Whitley was scheduled to be on Coast to Coast AM that night, starting at 10 pm. His friend Art Bell was still hosting the show at the time. That afternoon, I staggered up the long flight of stairs from the laundry room at the apartment building where we were staying at the time, complaining of a terrible headache. Then I collapsed on the floor and began having seizures. Whitley immediately knew what was wrong and called an ambulance, which took me to the nearest hospital, one that Whitley was dismayed to discover had an obviously second-rate neurology department.
While he was waiting for me to be admitted, his cell phone rang: It was Coast calling. He’d forgotten all about the show. Instead of talking about what he’d planned to report on, he explained what was going on, to an audience of millions of people listening all over the country, and asked everyone to pray for me. I still meet people today who said they did this. One of the listeners was someone whom Art Bell told Whitley was a "famous movie star."
Whitley THINKS he remembers the name "Liz Taylor" and Art doesn’t remember who it was any more. But here’s what’s important: She gave Art the name of someone she described as being "one of the best neurologists in the country," and Art passed the name on to Whitley, who immediately called him. He turned out to be a real friend: He arranged for me to be admitted to one of the BEST neurological hospitals in the country–UCLA–where the doctor who was head of the neurology department there was instrumental in saving my life. This other doctor was always available whenever Whitley called, giving him greatly needed guidance and advice during this traumatic period.
When I read the obituary of Elizabeth Taylor last week, I noted that among the many diseases she had suffered from was "a brain tumor," so I suspect it WAS her. If so, she was the first in a line of people who played an important role in saving me from a disease that kills half the people who get it. And if that’s the case, I just want to say, "Thanks, Liz!"