As of that morning, he was five years cancer-free.
He plans to celebrate this Saturday in his native Louisiana style — by playing host to a huge party.
But first, Chandler had to eat.
After a morning of overseeing a new bar installation, and a delivery of new shutters, Chandler wandered around his restaurant, Henry’s Louisiana Grill in Acworth, and greeted some of his longtime customers.
He finally sat down, pausing to pray, before digging into that day’s special, “Mama J’s,” a salad with local lettuce, sweet peppers, feta cheese, marinated cremini mushrooms and lightly blackened shrimp. He washed it down with a fresh glass of Coke Zero and two lime squeezes on the side.
Chandler, 54, has spent every day in his 14-year-old restaurant, except for a brief interruption five years ago, when he almost died from liver failure.
Chandler, born and raised in St. Maurice, La., learned to cook at the elbow of his family’s nanny, and picked up techniques and flavors as he moved to Lafayette, La., then Dallas, Texas, and then to London, England, where he attended culinary school at the City and Guilds of London Institute.
He opened Henry’s Louisiana Grill in 2000, on Main Street in Acworth, and has only seen the place grow, he said. It started with four employees and has grown to more than 100. The walls are lined with art and New Orleans memorabilia, most of them donations from customers, Chandler said.
As he ate, he greeted customers, paused to speak with employees, and shouted out for someone to answer the phone when it rang a few too many times.
He recounted his journey from his deathbed to Saturday’s celebration marking his fifth year since his liver transplant.
Chandler was diagnosed with cancer in November of 2007 and, at that point, too sick to receive a liver transplant.
“I was dying,” Chandler said.
After almost eight months, the doctors took a chance and gave Chandler some chemotherapy, which knocked out two of the five tumors he had in his liver.
He quickly was moved to the liver transplant list, but after a 12-day wait, his body was almost too frail for surgery.
Overnight, on the eve of Sept. 2, “God found the liver,” which was to be transplanted into Chandler’s body that day, and he miraculously survived, Chandler said.
Not only did he survive, but he was back at work three months later, and helping to provide transplant surgeries for other Georgians.
This Saturday, from 7 to 10 p.m., Chandler is throwing a “celebration of life” with more than 130 people attending.
There will be live music, spicy food and an auction, altogether expected to bring in thousands of dollars. Last year, the party raised $15,000, which was donated to the Georgia Transplant Foundation.
The Liverversary sold out three weeks ago, but Chandler is always taking donations to forward on to Georgia Transplant Foundation.
Just visit him at Henry’s, he is almost always there, making up the specials for the next day’s menu.