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Focus on Jacksonville film series helps keep his mind off lung cancer
Last Jan. 19 was a momentous day for Kent Lindsey.
That evening, Lindsey, 59, met with the leadership of the organization Leadership Jacksonville to pitch them on a series of TV episodes he and his wife and business partner, Pepper Lindsey, wanted to make about visionary Jacksonville leaders.
The idea had grown out of an 11-minute video Lindsey Films had made in 2009 when Leadership Jacksonville gave Fred Schultz its first lifetime achievement award. The Lindseys had spent more than six hours interviewing Schultz and it occurred to them that a longer film could be made about Schultz and that similar films could be made about other Jacksonville leaders.
The first 30-minute episode in Leadership Jacksonville’s Jacksonville Legacy Series, produced by Lindsey Films, will be shown Thursday at 8 p.m. on WJCT TV-7. It’s about former Jacksonville University president Fran Kinne, The Lindseys have also completed episodes on Schultz and Alton Yates and have plans for more.
While his Jan. 19 meeting with Leadership Jacksonville worked out well, a visit with a doctor earlier in the day didn’t. Lindsey, a non-smoker and workout warrior, got the news that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. A three-centimeter tumor had been found in his right lung.
Lindsey said when he heard the word cancer, “I gave myself 30 seconds to make a decision. Was I going to beat this or was it going to beat me?”
He said he decided he would defeat “this thing sitting in my chest that we called Lumpy.”
In fact, he said, he decided to look “at this situation as if it was a gift” since it led to an outpouring of “love, support, friendship and kindness of so many people.”
“Kent has always been a gusto kind of guy, the person who always sees the glass full and believes that under all of that manure there must be a pony,” his friend Mike Tolbert wrote in an email. ”His positive attitude, work ethic and approach to life was impressive before his illness. His fight back has been an inspiration and a lesson for us all.”
Musician Mike Shackleford, who performed with Lindsey in the band Justin from 1974-85, said, “He amazed me from the minute he found out about it ... I tell him all the time that he is my hero.”
Lindsey said one of the “blessings” of his cancer has been his renewed friendship with Shackleford. Lindsey left the band in 1985 to concentrate on acting and to serve as host of “Safari Sam,” a children’s television show that ran from 1985-98 on WAWS TV-30.
Shackleford said that the deep friendship they had developed didn’t go away but that they began spending less and less time together as their lives moved in different directions. But when Lindsey told Shackleford he had cancer — they were walking into the funeral of Shackleford’s mother-in-law at the time — Shackleford realized he wanted to be involved in Lindsey’s life again.
“We have rekindled our deep friendship and love for one another,” Lindsey said.
“We have some musical plans together for the future,” Shackleford said.
Like Tolbert and other many other friends, Shackleford made it a point to visit Lindsey as he went through a grueling treatment process. It began with four rounds of chemotherapy, with each treatment lasting 7½ hours. Then in June, he underwent surgery which removed part of his right lung. That was followed by another four rounds of chemotherapy. Currently, he’s undergoing a series of 33 radiation treatments. In early October, after his last PET scan, Lindsey heard the four words he had been hoping to hear: “No evidence of disease.”
Lindsey and his wife, who have a 9-year-old daughter, Samantha, married in 1985 and launched their production company in 1987. She works as a producer on her own projects as well as others’ while he does a lot of work as an actor. He regularly performs in training films for CSX and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick, Ga. He also turns up occasionally in television commercials. Last week he drove to Savannah to play a small role in a feature film.
He said the Legacy series is intended to be a “fly-on-the-wall conversation about what motivates them to get out of bed in the morning,” an attempt to capture of “essence of the person.”
“I’m not a historian,” Lindsey said. “I’m simply curious and looking for their humanity.”
Kinne said the eight hours she spent being interviewed was an enjoyable experience.
“They’re marvelous,” she said. “They’re meticulous in what they do and they’re fun.”
She recently saw the film. “I thought they did a very fine job,” she said. “I was impressed with the way they were able to put this together.”
Lindsey said working on the series while battling cancer “has been a big help,” by giving him something besides his health to focus on.
“It’s been an amazing ride,” he said. “Life doesn’t always allow you to be in control.”
But there’s one thing he can control, he said. “Every morning, first thing, I slap a huge smile on my face,” he said. “I want my face to stick like that. It’s hard to smile when you’ve got chemo coursing through your veins. But I’ve been able to maintain my smile.”
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Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/entertainment/arts/2012-11-08/story/focus-jacksonville-film-series-helps-keep-his-mind-lung-cancer#ixzz2CQByiBnZ
Click here to see thumbnails or to view videos of Dr. Kinne’ in the Leadership Jacksonville – Jacksonville Legacy Series was produced by Lindsey Films.