“President Hinckley Recovers from Surgery,” Ensign, Apr. 2006, 72
Following his first overnight hospital stay of his nearly 96 years, President Gordon B. Hinckley appeared to be recovering well in the weeks after a cancerous portion of his large intestine was removed. As this issue of the Ensign was being prepared for printing, President Hinckley looked forward to resuming his vigorous schedule leading the more than 12 million members of the Church.
When called as the 15th President of the Church in 1995, President Hinckley told reporters he had spent only one night in the hospital—not for himself, but with a sick child. Throughout his 70 years of Church service, the prophet has remained healthy and active.
However, when a cancerous growth was discovered in his large intestine during a routine medical screening earlier this year, he was scheduled for surgery at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. The growth was successfully removed on January 24, 2006, in a laparoscopic procedure, a less invasive process in which the surgeon makes smaller incisions and uses tiny cameras as guides. President Hinckley was discharged one week later.
As expected, his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, handled his workload in his absence.
The office of the President received a number of heartwarming get-well wishes for President Hinckley during his stay in the hospital. “President Hinckley is grateful for the outpouring of love and concern shown by members of the Church during his recovery,” reported his secretary, Don Staheli.
Among those who wished President Hinckley a speedy recovery was well-known newsman Mike Wallace from CBS and 60 Minutes. The two met 10 years ago when Mr. Wallace did a profile on President Hinckley, a report that the veteran journalist later called one of his most memorable experiences.
“I send a message of respect, of love, of friendship, and admiration,” he said upon hearing of President Hinckley’s surgery. “And darn it, get back on your feet quickly.”
President Hinckley is known Churchwide as the most traveled President in the Church’s history. Just last fall he completed a 10-city worldwide trip in 13 days.
The last Churchwide appearance he made before his surgery was on December 23, 2005, when he spoke from Vermont in a broadcast to Saints worldwide during a bicentennial birthday celebration honoring the Prophet Joseph Smith.
President Hinckley celebrated his 95th birthday nearly a year ago on June 23, 2005, with a gathering attended by 22,000. President David O. McKay, who lived to be 96 years old, has been the oldest President of the Church.
President Hinckley’s own father, Bryant S. Hinckley, lived to be 94. His mother fought cancer, but she eventually lost the battle, passing away during his youth.
He served in the First Presidency for 14 years and in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for 20 years prior to being called to lead the Church on March 12, 1995. Even then, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles commented on his energy: “President Hinckley is the youngest 84-year-old anyone can remember. The brisk bounce in his step, the unrestrained buoyancy of his spirit, and his consuming appetite for hard work and long hours would be admired in a man half his age. President Gordon B. Hinckley looks young, acts young, and loves youth with all its potential and promise” (“President Gordon B. Hinckley: Stalwart and Brave He Stands,” Ensign, June 1995, 2–3).