Police chief returns home after battle with bone cancer

Messages in chalk were scribbled on the sidewalk, posters lined the driveway and banners were draped across his home — all for Daniel Island resident and Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds.
Last fall, Reynolds had been experiencing back pain. The discomfort was unusual because it wasn’t going away, which Reynolds felt was strange because he’s in good shape. 
On Oct. 1, Reynolds checked in to his appointment at the Medical University of South Carolina. Doctors later confirmed the discovery of a mass in the form of a tumor on his pelvic area — a rare form of sarcoma, cancer in his bones and soft tissue.
After several tests and rounds of chemotherapy, it was determined that surgery would be needed. An MUSC doctor recommended a specialty doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. 
Reynolds disclosed the diagnosis to the city in November and was scheduled to have the operation in Minnesota in January. Before he left, his city wanted to show their support and solidarity. 
In December, prior to undergoing chemotherapy, members of the Charleston Police Department SWAT team shaved their heads as a symbol that Reynolds wouldn’t be enduring the cancer treatment alone. His gym, Iron Tribe Fitness, gave him a standing ovation that brought him to tears. They then presented him a black rubber weight plate with signatures and messages from members of the gym.   
“I’ve got a tremendous amount of support from the mayor, the council, the troops, and the neighborhood here,” Reynolds said. “Everybody has really been praying for me and reaching out and rallying behind me. I’m just so thankful. I can’t be grateful enough.”
On Jan. 4 and 6, Reynolds underwent a hemipelvectomy — a surgical procedure performed to address certain bone and soft tissue tumors that developed in or spread to the pelvis. It’s a procedure that commonly requires an above-the-knee amputation.  
Reynolds didn’t have many options, if any at all. He opted to have his right leg amputated. A tradeoff that resulted in the cancer being successfully removed and a positive prognosis for the future. 
“When I look down and I see that my leg is missing, my immediate reaction is that I’m not sad that my leg is gone, I’m happy that the cancer is gone,” Reynolds said.
After being in the hospital for 40 days, on Feb. 4, Reynolds reached out to his friends and work family at the City of Charleston via email. The following is a portion of that message: “I want you to know how much I appreciate your unwavering support and prayers throughout my battle with cancer. I am also very grateful for the outpouring of kindness from community members, the faith community and all those who have stood with me and my family during this challenging time ... I am blessed to have your support and the backing of the men and women of the Charleston Police Department. All of your prayers have sustained me through this most difficult period and I am forever grateful. I give praise to God for curing me of the cancer and I am excited to continue to serve as your Chief of Police.”
Five days later, Reynolds was released from the hospital. He caught a flight home to Charleston by way of a private charter that was arranged by a friend.
When Reynolds pulled up to his residence on Bellona Circle, he noticed a bunch of words on the sidewalk and in the driveway leading up the steps to the house. The verbiage was not an act of vandalism, but rather well wishes and kind words of goodwill. 
The day before, on Feb. 8, a dozen families and 20 or so kids came out to Reynolds’ home to pay their respects. What started out as a couple get-well messages turned into a shrine of support for the police chief. The following are some of the messages expressed at Reynolds’ home:
“Welcome Home Luther!!!”
“Be Strong”
“Welcome Back Luther!”
 Neighbors also supplied Reynolds with home-cooked meals and meal delivery gift cards. He estimates that there were about 500 text messages on his phone by the time he returned home.
“To see all of that was heartwarming, it was encouraging and it was emotional,” Reynolds said. “... The kindness has been pretty overwhelming. It’s almost too much.” 
Reynolds’ neighbor, Justin Lock, was the lead organizer behind the homecoming celebration.  
“We wanted to do something special because he’s special to us,” Lock said. “...We just wanted to make sure that he knew we were thinking about him and care about him so much.”
Lock noted that aside from neighbors contributing $1,000 in DoorDash gift cards, they are in the process with the Daniel Island Property Owners’ Association to get a tree planted in his honor within the cul de sac.  
“He’s a very open-minded man and he likes to be a part of the community,” Lock said. “I think that’s what makes him such a great police chief.”
Reynolds is hopeful that in the next four to six months he will be able to get a prosthetic leg. He enjoys running marathons and perhaps a future Cooper River Bridge Run isn’t out of the question. But for right now, Reynolds knows that he has a lot of healing to do.  
“There’s a whole lot you can do in life with one leg. I’m thankful to have so much support and opportunity that lies ahead,” Reynolds added. “I’m optimistic and excited to have a new lease.”
In the meantime, Reynolds gets around on crutches. Eventually, he will evolve to a wheelchair and then be able to drive at a later date. As for when Reynolds will return full-time to his post, he wasn’t able to give a definitive date or timeline but said that process has already begun.  
A GoFundMe has been set up for Reynolds’ medical expenses that has nearly raised $6,000 in donations. To make a donation, visit gofundme.com/f/friends-of-chief-luther-reynolds.

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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