Frank Ruff Jr.: The path not taken

Published 12:00 pm Friday, November 24, 2023

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Frank Ruff

Frank Ruff Jr.
State senator

As with most, when we hear the term ‘cancer’ in relation to ourselves or those we love, our minds lead us in many directions. The first is fear. Then the question arises, why? This is finally followed by acceptance.

Most of us know that cancer is bad, all of us know someone who has died. We also know that cancer invades different parts of the body. Modern science has brought many advances in the fight against cancer, but few of us understand those advances. Every year we read about this breakthrough or that, never fully knowing who and how it affects folks. We only hope that those advances will continue quickly. They have been coming quicker. We should be proud of the research that is being done at Virginia Commonwealth University as well as at the University of Virginia, both have comprehensive cancer centers. Virginia is one of a handful of states that has more than one.


Regularly, many of us pray the Lord’s Prayer which calls for God’s will to be done. When I have been asked to pray for someone, the question in my mind is this: Am I asking God to forego his will and instead follow my will? Therefore, often when I make that prayer, it includes my expectation that God’s will shall be done. For only God knows what suffering may be involved and when we are better off joining him regardless of what those around us think is best for us.

Thus, since I first learned of my situation, when people asked about praying for me, that is exactly what I requested – that his will be done.


When first informed, I was told that one kidney would have to be removed along with a portion of my liver. The surgery would take about five hours. What the surgical team learned after the surgery began was that the main canal that God had created for our bodies that carries the needed nutrients from both kidneys to the liver was totally blocked. To put it in nonmedical terms, envision Interstate 95 taking most of the highway traffic north and south. With me, God’s will was for my body to take the less traveled path. He guided those nutrients through various paths to keep my body functioning even though that main canal could move nothing. This was something the surgeons had not expected.

Therefore, after 12 hours of removing the cancer and seeing what God had made happen and that it was working for me, the surgeons said, “thank God”. They understood this was beyond them. I better understood that God is in control.

I appreciate all involved in the process of getting me to the right people at the right time before my second kidney was engulfed in cancer. The well-trained and caring staff at VCU, from the surgical team to the nursing staff, all comforted me. I also appreciate all those in our communities, the numerous well-wishers who prayed for me and my family deserve equal appreciation for their help.

The healing process will continue. Knowing so many who have shown their love and concern gives me strength to move forward. 

Frank Ruff Jr. represents Charlotte in the state Senate. His email address is