The Web      Powered by
powered by Yahoo!


Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Tammy Faye Messner

Aired March 18, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive, Tammy Faye Messner with some shocking news, announcing here and here alone, an intense, emotional hour you're not going to forget with the one and only Tammy Faye Messner, exclusive and next on LARRY KING LIVE.
She's been on television hundreds and hundreds of times. She's been on this program many times. She's the former wife of televangelist Jim Baker (ph). She's had lots of ups and downs in her life. She's a television personality, singer, an author, star of the recent reality show "The Surreal." But tonight we take a little different turn. She's going to share some very important news about herself.

We've been told just today that you have been diagnosed with lung cancer.

TAMMY FAYE MESSNER: Lung cancer, yes.

KING: Tell me about it.

MESSNER: Well, I went for my yearly checkup about six months ago, and when I did that, my cancer number was up. If there's a number, then it was, like, the 6 is OK, but mine had gone up in one year to 21. And so they suspected something, but they thought it was colon cancer because...

KING: Which you previously had.

MESSNER: ... which I had eight years ago, eight years ago this March 6 I had surgery for colon cancer. And so they told me they thought I ought to go and have my tummy CAT-scanned because they were thinking colon cancer, so I did. There was nothing -- there was nothing wrong. I had my lung X-rayed and there was nothing wrong. They couldn't find anything. But when they CAT-scanned my tummy, they caught the left lobe of my left lung, and they saw a little, tiny white spot on it. So they decided to do a CAT scan on my lungs, and when they did, they found a two-inch spot on the -- right next to my heart, and then that spot on the bottom and then another little spot.

And so we went through the bronoscopic (ph) tests where they go down your throat and they take biopsies of the lung, and that showed up nothing. And they couldn't figure out what it was. They said -- first, they said, Well, it could be tuberculosis. Then they said, Well, it could be -- there's a -- there's something that you get in the desert that can get on your lung from -- it's a fungus. They thought, well, it might be that. And I don't think anybody suspected that it was lung cancer. KING: But your cancer count was high, right? Was that a blood test...

MESSNER: The count was high so they knew it was somewhere.

KING: All right. OK.

MESSNER: Two weeks ago, I found out. They went in and they did a biopsy of my lung, where they go through your back get a -- get four biopsies. And they found out it was lung cancer.

KING: How did they tell you?

MESSNER: My doctor, Brooks (ph), Dr. Marvin Brooks, who...

KING: Where was this?

MESSNER: This is over in Palm Springs, at the Eisenhower Medical Center.

KING: Did you go in, or he called you or...

MESSNER: Dr. Brooks -- I called Dr. Brooks when I found out that there was white spots on my lung, and he said, I want to you come to California. I'm going to get a team of people together, and we're going to find out what it is, because it was taking my voice away. That was one of the things that was bothering me is I couldn't sing anymore. And I go in and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) can hardly breath and talk at the same time. So he -- and we went there, and he scheduled a bunch of tests for me. And he was the one who came in and told me that it was lung cancer. And I said, Well, if anyone had to give me that news, I was really happy that it was my really good friend, Dr. Marvin Brooks, who's watching tonight. I love you, Marv!

KING: You didn't smile.

MESSNER: No, I didn't smile.

KING: And now, it's not operable?

MESSNER: It is inoperable, yes. That's true.

KING: It wouldn't pay to take it out.

MESSNER: They can't take it out because it's too near the heart and there are too many blood vessels that are close to -- to the cancer.

KING: So what kind of treatment have they put you on?

MESSNER: Well, they're going to put me on chemotherapy and radiation. Now, this is something I'm going to have to eat my words on because the last time that I had cancer, I refused chemotherapy and radiation, and I felt like...

KING: That was the colon cancer. MESSNER: With the colon cancer.

KING: And that went away by itself?

MESSNER: That was totally -- it's been gone for eight years. No, they did surgery on me. They took out 14 inches of my colon...

KING: But they...

MESSNER: ... and they told me that they got it all. And I said, Well, if you've got it all, then I'm not going to bother with chemotherapy. I was afraid that the chemotherapy would kill the good things in my body, as well as the bad things.

KING: Right.

MESSNER: And therefore, I didn't trust chemotherapy. And now -- I always told everybody, I'll never have chemotherapy. I'll never have chemotherapy. Well, you got to be careful what you say...

KING: You're going to have it.

MESSNER: ... because at this point, it looks like that's the way we're going to have to go because it's inoperable.

KING: Why didn't it start yesterday, then? Why are we waiting?

MESSNER: Well, we're just -- we're waiting to -- the doctors are getting together a plan. Dr. Brooks has five doctors that are meeting and getting together with a plan of the chemotherapy. And he called me today and said that it looks like it will be a treatment three days every two weeks. And I've never -- you know, it's so funny, Larry, because a woman is so vain! And the first thing we think about -- Oh, no, I just got my hair right, got the highlights just right, and now I'm going to lose it all!


KING: You are...

MESSNER: Kidding! Kidding! Kidding!

KING: We're all terminal.


KING: But do you feel close to -- I mean, how do you -- I mean, I know you're a strong believer...


KING: ... which holds you in good stead. But do you feel -- how do you feel?

MESSNER: Well, I'm scared, but that's not wrong to be scared. It's OK. God knows that I'm scared and he understands that. I don't like what's happening to me. The other day, I was laying in a tanning bed and I was crying out to God, I hate what I'm going through! I hate this. I hate this. I'm so scared. What am I going to do?

And the thing that bothers you, Larry, when you find out that you have an illness that could be terminal, is you always think everything's the last time. And I've got to really make my mind not think that because when I came here, I thought, Maybe it's the last time I'll do Larry King. When I took the Christmas tree out this year and there was -- and they -- I didn't know if I had cancer or not, the first thing I thought -- Maybe this is the last time that I'll take the Christmas tree out of the attic.

KING: Yes.

MESSNER: And maybe this is the last time I'll put it up. So you have to guard your mind and constantly say, you know -- it could be anyone's last time, not just mine.

KING: Your husband, Rowe (ph), he has prostate cancer.

MESSNER: He has prostate cancer. He's had it for eight years.

KING: So he's got it under control, then.

MESSNER: He has it under control, yes.

KING: How did you break this news to him?

MESSNER: Well, I think he actually knew it before me. I think he suspected it before I would allow myself to suspect it. And he was trying even then to say, Now if it is, you know, we're going to face this realistically. We're going to do what has to be done and we're going to keep a positive attitude. And I found out that a positive attitude, particularly when you have a disease that could be terminal, you know, or when you're going through things that could be really devastating, you've got to keep a positive attitude.

KING: We did a monumental show here one night with you and your ex-husband, Jim Baker, and your current husband and his wife...


KING: ... and how close you kind of have remained. Does Jim know?

MESSNER: Yes, Jim knows. My daughter and my son are having a real hard time with the fact that Mom has cancer. And Tammy Sue told her dad, and her dad said, Well, Tammy Sue, you know, we're all getting older. You're 30 -- how old is Sue? Sue, how old are you?


MESSNER: Tammy Sue has just turned 36. And Jim told her, he said, Things like this are going to start to happen. And that's true, looking at it realistically. I had a real moment with my kids the other day. You know, we're all tough and we try not to ever say anything that will hurt each other, make each other cry, and we all stand real tough for each other. And so we'd never talked about it. And so it was my birthday, and again, Jamie came home and -- with his wife and Tammy Sue, and we all went to a restaurant, the four of us together.

And we were sitting there eating, and Jamie said, Mom, he says, I'm not very good at talking, and when you get in, you know, intimate one-on-one conversations. But he put his arm around me, and for the first time in his life -- he's the kind that when you hug kind of gets straight and stiff, you know? And he pulled me up next to him, put his arms around me and he said, Mom, he said, I want to tell you something. He says, You're my spiritual hero and you're my hero as a woman. And I just want you to know that, and I want you to know how much I love you. And man, that was worth having cancer over, I'll tell you!

KING: We'll take a break and be back. We'll go to calls for Tammy Faye in a while. More to come. Don't go away.


MESSNER: You know, Jim, one day I was feeling so terribly discouraged and just about ready to give up. And the Lord spoke to me and I -- and I -- and there were so many people around who (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the continuing -- you know, you -- I kept thinking, We've bottomed out. We've bottomed out. And then another deeper bottom would come to our lives.


MESSNER: And I said, Lord, when are these men going to stop hurting us so desperately? And the Lord spoke to me and said, Tammy, as long as those stars still shine in the sky, I'm still God, and I still rule.

BAKER: Amen!

MESSNER: Praise the Lord!

BAKER: Amen.

MESSNER: So there is hope.




KING: There's no jealousy in this room, now, right?


KING: You don't feel any -- any feelings, feelings bad...

MESSNER: No! KING: ... about her?

MESSNER: No, no, no, no.

KING: Would you say that you're all friends?

MESSNER: I would say we're friends, yes.


KING: How do you explain that? I mean, with all your...

BAKER: God. It's God. You have -- only God can help people truly forgive and go on. In the book of Colossians (ph), it talks about that because of what Christ did, we are pure. We are without judgment on ourselves. And only through him can we do something like this.


KING: We're back with Tammy Faye Messner, coming on tonight to reveal the fact that she has inoperable lung cancer, will start treatment in a couple weeks, a chemotherapy treatment, which previously she has avoided.

Did you smoke?

MESSNER: No, I've never -- I've never even picked up a cigarette in my life, I don't think.

KING: Is there any association between this lung cancer and the previous colon cancer?

MESSNER: They think so. They think what I have is colon cancer of the lung. Now, go figure that one out.

KING: You mean it spread to the lung?

MESSNER: That spread to the lung, yes.

KING: But eight years it took?

MESSNER: Eight years. So that was a wonderful blessing from God, I think.

KING: That it took that long.

MESSNER: And they say it's more curable because of -- because of that fact.

KING: Do you have pain?

MESSNER: I have pain in my back at night, really bad pain sometimes. But it's not something that -- it's something that aspirin will take care of. And so it's -- you know, so I can deal with it fine. My most annoying problem is that I have a paralyzed vocal chord.

KING: It hurts?

MESSNER: And -- well, it sounds like it hurts. It doesn't...

KING: Paralyzed by this cancer?

MESSNER: By the cancer. What happens is your vocal chords are right here, and there's a nerve that goes down past your heart. And it's that nerve that the cancer has wound itself around. And I'm hoping that I can sing again some day. That's one of the saddest things for me, as I look at my tracks that I used to sing with all the time and knowing that I can't sing anymore. And that was something that I enjoyed doing, and I -- it was a way of ministry for me. And I miss that a lot.

KING: Does the way you handled the previous cancer help with this one?

MESSNER: It's so different, Larry, because, you know, that was operable.

KING: That was -- that you had surgery on.

MESSNER: They could get that out. And it's a different story when they inoperable, you know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on the front of it. But then I think it's nothing to God because cancer is just a word. It's just a name. And so what if you put "in" in front of it? It's still just a name. And I know a name that's bigger than all of that, and that name is Jesus. And so I can rest in the fact that he knows about it. He knew about it before I was even born, and that I can rest knowing that God knows about it.

There's a verse in the Bible says, In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. And what brings me peace is the scripture.

KING: So if you have this strong belief...


KING: ... what are you afraid of, afraid of the way you're going to die, afraid of -- what are you afraid of?

MESSNER: I don't think I'm afraid of dying (UNINTELLIGIBLE) will it hurt.

KING: When you say...

MESSNER: Will I be able to breathe?

KING: You're scared of?

MESSNER: I'm just -- I'm scared...

KING: You know you're going somewhere, right? MESSNER: Huh?

KING: You know you're going somewhere.

MESSNER: Oh, I know I'm going to be -- I know I'm going to heaven to be with Jesus, but I just don't want to be on the next busload, you know?

KING: But you -- isn't that giving you a lot of comfort to know...

MESSNER: It gives me comfort. Of course, it does. But you know that there's a human part of us that fights to live. And you look at all your stuff and you look at your family and you look at your puppy dogs and you look at all the things that you love so much, and you always -- you wonder, Well, what's going to become of it? If I die before Rowe -- poor Rowe -- it'll take him years to get rid of my junk! And I...

KING: Also, does it ever -- do you ever -- once you're told something like that...


KING: ... do you ever not think about it?


KING: So it's always on your mind.

MESSNER: It's on your mind, in the back of your mind. It's sort of like something that lurks around in the back of your mind. You wake up in the morning -- it's like a death. When you -- when someone dies in your family and you think you're over it, and then you wake up in the morning and it hits you, I won't ever see my brother again. I won't ever see my mom again. And it just kind of hits you like that.

But I have found the way that I deal with it is I just start praising the Lord, and I say OK, God, you said in everything give thanks. Now, how do you expect me to thank you for cancer? I'm learning to thank God for cancer, which is really hard to do, Larry. But the Bible says to do that, and I believe if I will follow God's word, there may be a miracle in store.

KING: How's your husband dealing with it?

MESSNER: He's -- I think he deals with it better than me sometimes, you know? I don't like to cry in front of anybody. I don't like to put my worry on anybody else, and I try keep quiet about it. I don't even like to tell anybody. I chose to come on...

KING: Why did you come here?

MESSNER: I wanted to come and tell people my story, my version of it, because I -- I think I was born to help people.

KING: You didn't want it to break...

MESSNER: And I didn't want -- I didn't want...


KING: ... tabloids...

MESSNER: ... the rag magazines to get ahold of it first. I wanted to let people know how I felt about it and to come right direct from me. I didn't want any big, crazy headlines from the rag magazines to do it first.

KING: How was the experience on "The Surreal" -- We're go to calls at the bottom of the hour, by the way. How did that "Surreal Life" come about?

MESSNER: Oh, my gosh. You can blame my husband. They called me, and they said I was their first choice.

KING: I think they put 12 people in a house?

MESSNER: No, they six people. They put six people in a house. You'd have no idea whose house -- what house -- where you're going to be, who's going to be with you. You have no idea who's going to be with you. So it's kind of a leap into the dark. IT's a leap of faith, I guess! And they picked me out first. There was 140 people that they were choosing from, and my name was first. And so they called me, I know, 50 times. And finally Rowe said to me, Tammy, why don't you get out of your comfort zone? And he said, Why don't you go be a light and go try to be a light to people and make a change?

KING: How many days were you together?

MESSNER: We were together 12 days. I fell in love with these wonderful people!

KING: How long did it run?

MESSNER: It ran several weeks, and they ran it most places twice a week.

KING: And you became kind of a cult hero because we have some e- mail you got on this show.

MESSNER: Oh, this is really funny!

KING: Tracy (ph) -- "I love your shoes and all that's above it." Matthew, "I think you are so hot, cute and sexy."

MESSNER: Oh, thank you, Matthew!

KING: "Even though you're too old for me, I still dream of you." "I just want to say we love you Tammy Faye and are glad to see you on TV. This lady needs your own talk show, kind of like Ricky Lake (ph) meets PTL." I love this from Matt...

MESSNER: This is my favorite one of all, the one that you're going to read now.

KING: Matt -- "Even though you have lots of wrinkles on your face, you still look hot and sexy. You need to wear some more makeup to hide the wrinkles."

MESSNER: Isn't that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Don't you love this kid?


KING: That's a young audience.

MESSNER: That's a young audience.

KING: As we go to break...

MESSNER: And I've got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them.

KING: As we go to break with Tammy Faye, here's a scene from "The Surreal Life."

MESSNER: Oh, dear! Are you going to pick the bad one?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Haven't heard this one in a long time.

MESSNER: Let me hear it. I want to hear it. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I had never heard a Vanilla Ice song.


MESSNER: I got to hear it. I love to hear him singing. Go, Ice Man! All right (UNINTELLIGIBLE) party's a-jumpin'. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) like a pound of bacon! Yes, man! You go! I love it!




MESSNER: And I'm going to say one thing. I know a lot of us have been hurt. I have been hurt horribly. And it's a hard time sometimes to forgive people. And I want to tell you, in ancient civilization, if you killed somebody, instead of putting you in a jail, like they do nowadays, you know what they did? They took that dead person and they strapped that dead person on your back. And you know what ended up happening? The dead person ended up killing the person that was carrying him.

I had a dead person on my back for a long time, and I carried that man on my back until one day, I heard a voice inside me say, Tammy, lay him down. Just lay him down. I'll take care of him. And one day, I unstrapped that dead body from my back. I laid that body down and I said, God, he's not a part of me anymore, and I live. Lay him down! let him go and move on!


KING: Who were you talking about?

MESSNER: Jerry Falwell.

KING: Jerry Falwell, who tried...

MESSNER: Yes, and he knows that.

KING: Who tried to take over the...


KING: And you have forgiven him?

MESSNER: Oh, yes. Yes. And that's what that little story is all about, Larry, is when you live an -- I always say forgiveness is the greatest gift you'll ever give yourself. And when you live in unforgiveness, it kills you. It doesn't kill the person you're mad at, it kills you inside.

KING: One of the people in "The Surreal Life" was a porno star.

MESSNER: Yes. Ron Jeremy (ph).

KING: Wasn't that -- how did you deal with that conflict, based on your Christian values?

MESSNER: That was no conflict with me because I -- see, I had -- I did never -- I didn't even know who Ron Jeremy was, had no idea when I met him who he was. And here's this man that gets on the trolley -- they picked us all up with a trolley -- and carrying a little box. And in the box was a little turtle that they had rescued. And he -- now, how could you not love this guy carrying a little pet turtle? That was all I knew about Ron until I found out that he was a porn star. By that time, I already liked him.

KING: Have you all kept in touch with each other?

MESSNER: Yes, we have. In fact...

KING: Now -- now they're all going to flood you now.

MESSNER: Ron -- Ron called me the other day and he said...

KING: Does he know about this?

MESSNER: Yes. And he said to me, Tammy, he said, I don't know how far my prayers go, but he said, I want you to know that I'm praying for you. And that meant more to me than you'll ever know. I love you, Ron!

KING: Speaking of prayer, what is this -- "Lord hear my prayer" little box you carry around with you? MESSNER: I got this little box in the mail the other day, and it was from the staff at WB, the people -- the cameramen and the people that I had worked with, that had followed us around 24 hours a day for -- at "The Surreal" house. Inside the little box there...

KING: Oh, are written prayers...

MESSNER: They're prayers for me.

KING: They all wrote little prayers...

MESSNER: Yes, they did.

KING: ... and put them in the box.

MESSNER: And I read them over and over. And the other day, I got a little box from Tiffany's, and it was from 10 people at "Surreal Life." And it's this little cross that I'm wearing right now.

KING: Yes, I see it.

MESSNER: And I'll wear it always.

KING: Did you see "The Passion of the Christ"?

MESSNER: Yes, I did.

KING: Like it?

MESSNER: I loved it. I cried all through it. Every time they hit him, I did like that. It's -- what it did, Larry, is -- no matter how much you read about something, you still have to imagine what it was like. And to see and not have to imagine anymore a man beaten until he looks like hamburger meat, and you know that he did it for you -- he could have stopped it at any point, and he did it for you -- I cried. Everybody in the theater was crying. And that was the Jesus that I love. It made him so much more real to me.

KING: Where are you going to be treated?

MESSNER: I'm going to be treated at the Lucy Curchy (ph) Cancer Center. This is a new cancer center that they have just opened up in Rancho Mirage. It's a part of the Eisenhower. And it has brand-new facilities. The people there are awesome. I have been treated so wonderfully by the doctors and the nurses there.

KING: When does treatment start? Chemo starts...

MESSNER: Treatment will start in April.

KING: We will take a break, and when we come back, we'll go to your phone calls for Tammy Faye Messner on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and our entire program will be devoted to it. You'll learn about the guests during the day tomorrow. Our entire program tomorrow night looks at Iraq a year later.

We'll be right back.


MESSNER: And if I've learned nothing else through this, I have learned that I can trust in God. I can trust in Jesus. And this Gospel that we preach does work. So those who are hurting and suffering today, hang in there. The sun will shine again.

BAKER: And we want the people to know that we love everyone. Even those who would be our enemies, we love them and have forgiven them.



JIM BAKKER, HOST, "PRAISE THE LORD": Oh, my lands, that number has really moved up dramatically in the last few hours, $19,364. My, has that taken a jump. That's taken a jump of about 600 new lifetime partners since I last looked at the board. That means there's just over 5,000 memberships left of the lifetime partnership.

FAYE: Is that right?

BAKKER: That's it. That's all there's left. It is unbelievable.


KING: "PTL Club." Is that still around?

MESSNER: I was young then.

KING: That's still on, right?

MESSNER: Jim is in Branson (ph), Missouri, doing a show now and the "PTL Club," no, is no longer on, but the satellite network we went up on is still going.

KING: That's still around?

MESSNER: That's still around, yes.

KING: We're going to go to calls for Tammy Faye Messner revealing tonight for the first time that she has inoperable lung cancer. Atlanta, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Hello. I love you, Tammy Faye.

MESSNER: Thank you.

CALLER: You're beautiful and you still look young.

MESSNER: Just exactly what that kid said, right? CALLER: Jen (UNINTELLIGIBLE), they host TBN, and Jen had a terminal illness and everything and God healed her.

MESSNER: Yes, she had colon cancer.

CALLER: You're going to have a testimony, have you thought about going to Benny Hinn?

MESSNER: I'm already in touch with Ben and Suzanne. In fact, Suzanne and Oral Roberts prayed over a little pair of pajamas they sent me and they sent that to me. When I put those on I feel so wrapped in God's love because I feel their prayers.

KING: You think Benny Hinn could help you?

MESSNER: Well, I'm a friend of Benny Hinn...

KING: He cures people.

MESSNER: It's not him that cures people, it's Jesus that cures people but as we believe together, I believe in miracles, too.

KING: You wrote a book a few months ago, you titled it, "I Will Survive."

MESSNER: Can you believe that?

KING: A little prophetic.

MESSNER: I didn't think I was going to have to survive anything else. I thought I had survived everything. You never know, do you, Larry? It was like a prophecy to myself. That's good. I will survive.

KING: You're involved with the American Cancer Society?


KING: Is that since the colon cancer?

MESSNER: Yes. My friend and Dr. Brooks' wife, Sally Brooks (ph), is about to become a national chairman for the board of directors of the American Cancer Society. It's the first woman -- the third woman in 95 years. So you go, Sally. I think that's awesome.

KING: We have a number for the cancer society if you want any information about cancer. 1-800-227-2345. 1-800-227-2345. Omaha, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Tammy.


CALLER: I just wanted to call and say that I really admire you and thanks for being so strong, but how was you able to cope with the Jim Bakker scandal? MESSNER: Oh, I just forgave, and I have a little saying, forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself, and I truly believe that. So I just forgave him and went on, and we're friends today and that's nice.

KING: What about while you were going through it?

MESSNER: It was terribly hard going through it. I won't pretend it wasn't hard, but we made it. That's the end of the story, we made it.

KING: Santa Fe, New Mexico, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Tammy. God bless you.

MESSNER: Thank you.

CALLER: You are the most genuine, unique woman, and I love you.

MESSNER: Thank you.

CALLER: My question is, have you ever tried holistic healing or healers, herbs, and do you have an e-mail? And my prayers are with you always.

KING: What's your e-mail?

MESSNER: Yes, my e-mail is I have -- I am thinking about putting the holistic medicine with the chemotherapy.

KING: Why not try anything?

MESSNER: I'm going to try anything but I believe in the holistic way. I truly believe God made natural things that can help us.

KING: We go to Redding (ph), California. Hello.

CALLER: Hello?

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Hi, Tammy. I just wanted to tell you how much you've meant to my family and I over the years, how beautiful I think you are and how much we love you and to ask you, are you able to minister at this time? Are you kind of just waiting?

MESSNER: Well, I was supposed to have my own televison show by now, as yo know the last time I was on I was getting ready to do a show and I got to where I can't sing anymore so therefore I feel like I almost can't do another television show until I'm capable of singing again, because I think that's part of who I am. So as soon as I make it through this, and start singing again, I'll be back on television, with my own show.

KING: Thank you. To Holden, Massachusetts, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Tammy Faye.


CALLER: I just wanted to ask you how you have the faith to continue on with all the things that you've gone through, and what is it that makes you as strong as you are and thank you, Larry, for having her. We love you.

MESSNER: I'm a real simple person. I believe that the Bible means what it says, and says what it means. I just take it very literally, and I have a verse in the Bible, Larry, that I've been really hanging on to and it is in Isaiah 41:10. It says, "fear not for I am with thee, be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee. I will help thee. I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness," and I believe that and that's how I make it day by day.

KING: Whitenberg, Arizona, hello.

CALLER: I just wondered if Tammy Faye has checked out the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. I saw a testimony on "700 Club" earlier this week of a woman that was, had the verdict of death from breast cancer, and she, 12 years later, after going to the Cancer Treatment Centers, she's alive and well. It was just wonderful the way they do it with people there.

MESSNER: You know, the Lucy Kir -- center, I can't say her last name, there's also a cancer treatment center.

KING: There is a group called the Cancer Treatment Center.

MESSNER: There is a group. I'll have to look into that, too. Thank you.

KING: East Lansing, Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Tammy Faye. I'm sorry to hear about your lung cancer. My question is, while you were taping "The Surreal Life," while you were in the "Surreal Life" house, did your fellow cast mates know about your lung cancer at the time and how were you...

MESSNER: I didn't know it. I didn't know it myself. I knew I was starting to have problems with my voice but I certainly didn't equate it with cancer.

KING: What's the second part of your question, ma'am?

CALLER: How were you able to get through that knowing that you had lung cancer, how were you able to go and what made you decide to do that?

MESSNER: I didn't know I had lung cancer. I wasn't feeling bad at all. I was feeling good and so I just went and hopefully, I could be a light in that.

KING: You're breaking... MESSNER: A little light. One little tiny light.

KING: You're breaking it to a mass audience tonight. Who have you told?

MESSNER: Just my family and the people who work with me -- I have shared it with the people on WB.

KING: Selma, California, hello.

CALLER: Yes, how are you?

KING: Fine.

CALLER: Tammy Faye, I'm a student of Dr. Gene Scott (ph).

MESSNER: Oh, I know Gene.

CALLER: I'm wondering if you've gone to the table of the Lord where you very well know healing can be found because with his stripes we were healed.

MESSNER: I know that. I stand on that message. Dotty Ramble (ph), one of the most famous gospel singers of all time called me the other night and she said, Tammy Faye, I want to have communion together with you over the phone. She said, go get a piece of bread and get a little bit of water. You don't have to have wine and she says, let's have communion together. I've been taking a lot of communion because I know that by his stripes, the stripes that he took for us at Calvary, we are already healed and all we need to do is accept that, yes, I'm going there daily.

KING: This is a battle you're engaging in. You realize that.

MESSNER: Yes, but you know the Bible says that the battle isn't ours. The battle is the Lord's, the Bible says.

KING: You don't blame him for giving you the cancer?

MESSNER: To oh, no, no, no, no.

KING: You didn't do anything to deserve it.

MESSNER: Well, nobody does anything. We're all made out of the same old dirt. I'm no better than anybody else, and I just believe that there are certain things God allows in our lives, and like I said, that scripture that says, in everything give thanks. If this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. And I trust God with me.

KING: We'll be back with more. More phones for Tammy Faye Messner. A major show on Iraq tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: All of this has done what for this group, do you think? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's made us stronger. All of us. It's made us stronger.

KING: All of you feel closer to God?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Deeper, closer to God than I've ever been.

KING: There's no bitterness here? No anger? Don't you feel anger at Jerry Falwell?

JAY BAKKER, SON OF TAMMY FAYE MESSNER: It's not anger at Jerry Falwell. I had to forgive him. It is what some of those type pastors represent of what they're preaching that I feel needs to stop, but you know what, when Paul was in prison, he was talking how there were preachers there in the prison who were preaching just to make him mad but he goes, I thank God anyway that the gospel is being preached and that's how I feel about it. Thank God it's being preached."




MESSNER: There's absolutely no way I'm going to stay here. I want nothing to do with this. I will go across the street and pay for my room myself. I am not staying here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tammy Faye, without even thinking a second goes bye, runs out the door, like she just saw a devil at the end of his penis.

MESSNER: Well, I'm a Christian and I don't think we're supposed to look at other people's bodies but the person we're married to. You know, I have heard all the porn things that I can hear this week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to get naked.

MESSNER: He hit me sideways. And I said I'd never cry on TV again. Well, so you made me cry.


KING: Have you recovered?

MESSNER: I've recovered.

KING: What's the big deal? The human body is beautiful.

MESSNER: I just, I'm not interested in anybody's human body that's naked. I think it's much more sexy when somebody's covered up. That's just my thought.

KING: Redlands, California, hello. CALLER: Yes, Tammy, may God bless you always.

MESSNER: Thank you.

CALLER: And Tammy, are you worried about an addiction to your medication? I know that you've been to Betty Ford.

MESSNER: No, I'm not, because I learned all about addiction.

KING: It's not an addicting medication.

MESSNER: I don't think it will be. I don't think you can get addicted to chemotherapy.

KING: No, do you take pain medication?


KING: Seymour, Tennessee, hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry. Thanks for taking my call. I got a couple questions if I may to ask Miss Messner. First, I heard you say awhile ago that you believed in the Bible and you feared God's word so I would like to ask you then, what is your stand on adultery, since you've remarried and since Jim has remarried. And my second question is, since you faced cancer twice, why on Earth would you say you're just a week so or so ago you was in a tanning bed?

KING: Marriage isn't adultery.

MESSNER: No, I am married to my husband, and we're not living in adultery, as long as we're married.

KING: What were you doing in a tanning bed?

MESSNER: In a tanning bed? I think brown fat looks a whole lot better than white fat, so there. That's why I was in the tanning bed.

KING: You're friends with a lot of gays. What do you feel about gay marriage?

MESSNER: Well, I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

KING: To Lexington, North Carolina, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I just wanted to say we were in a restaurant about a month ago, Tammy Faye, and you sat beside a us, came and sat down your party did, and you were so gracious. It was just like a ray of sunshine setting down beside. And gave us an autograph. And I want to thank you so much for that.

But my question for you is this -- good luck on everything and I'll certainly remember you in prayer. I just wanted to ask you, other than surgery, what did you do, what treatment did you undergo for your colon cancer? MESSNER: Nothing other than surgery. I just had the surgery and they said it was over and they had gotten it all and I opted not to go for chemotherapy or radiation.

KING: Colowana, British Columbia, hello?

CALLER: Tammy Faye you are our spiritual inspiration as are sunsets and we pray for you. Also, I have a couple of questions. No. 1, have you thought of, or have they thought of lung transplantation in your case?

KING: Can they?

MESSNER: I don't think they can do lung transplant because it's too close to the heart and the blood vessels. If it were on the right side maybe but on the left, I don't think so.

KING: Second question?

CALLER: And I was wondering what your symptoms were?

MESSNER: You know, the funny thing is the only symptom I had was, well that didn't happen until lately was my voice. I didn't have any symptoms.

KING: It was a test?

MESSNER: It was just a test. I had no symptoms and that's the scary thing about cancer. A lot of times there are no symptoms.

KING: Tammy Faye has been featured on "Saturday Night Live." Let's look at an example of how they treated you.

MESSNER: You wouldn't!


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And once it felt like someone shoved a bun cake ring down over my head and the bun, right, honey?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the bun and the filling rose up in flames and all the raisins turned into demons. And I put my hands up and said I rebuke you!

DANA CARVEY, COMEDIAN: Well, isn't that special.

Tammy, we have a bit of goop on our face.


MESSNER: Oh, I love that. I love that. I laugh harder at that than anyone else. I like the time they pushed the button and the mascara was just pouring down.

KING: Raleigh, North Carolina, hello.

CALLER: Tammy, this is your nephew, Lee Lavale (ph).

MESSNER: Oh my gosh, hello.

CALLER: And I am in Raleigh for work and was going to call you when I was down here and found out about the diagnosis from my dad. And I just wanted to call and luckily I got through, they didn't think I was so weirdo thinking I was your, you know, crank calling. But I wanted you to know we're all thinking about you on that end and hope everything goes well four.

MESSNER: Thank you, lee. I appreciate that so much.

KING: That was nice. Tucson.

MESSNER: Do you know I met my real dad's family on the "Larry Springer Show."

KING: Jerry Springer?

MESSNER: Jerry Springer, met all of my brothers and sisters I never met eight of them.

CALLER: Tammy, I feel like I'm going to cry night now, I'm sorry. I love you. I have admired you since I was 16 years old. I sent you a postcard and you wrote me back and it meant so much to me. And I wanted to tell you that I'm praying for you and I know you'll be okay. My question was, are you still doing your one woman show and are you still preaching in North Carolina?

But thank you for everything. You've inspired me so much. And every time I'm in Palm Springs and think of you an wonder if you're around. I'd really like to meet you someday. I'm sorry for everything. I'm sure you'll be okay, though. You're strong and I love you.

KING: Are you going to continue to ministry?

MESSNER: I'm still preaching with this funny voice. I can't sing so that's hard, but otherwise I'm still ministering and still taking church dates.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Tammy Faye Messner right after this.


MESSNER: That is weird, Jim. And I have been the sorrow and the grief and the hurt. We had absolutely nothing left, reputation destroyed, everything gone, but God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tammy bought me a little pin. It was supposed to flip on a shirt or something but I have it on my lamp. It says, don't worry, be happy.



KING: One more call. Hello.

CALLER: Would Jim and Tammy consider doing a TV show together again?

KING: Tammy says yes. Jim says no. You would not work together again?

J. BAKER: I've got so much going on, I don't think it will ever happen.


KING: Modesto, California, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry and Tammy.



CALLER: Tammy, I have four friends going through exactly what you're going through and beating it. I, too, am a cancer survivor. I'd like to say this to you, 20 years from now when you die of old age in your sleep and you go to heaven, who are you going to look for besides the obvious, and what are you going to do?

MESSNER: Oh, wow, that is so exciting. Such a neat question. I want to see Jesus first. I want to run and get a look at him, and then I want to see my mom and my brother and my grandma and my aunt. All my family is there. You know it's so funny to have this and go pick up the phone and want to call mom. Or you think you want to call grandma or Aunt Jen (ph) to talk to and there's no one left to talk to about it.

KING: You are encouraging people about PET Scan (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

That's how you found it right?

MESSNER: There is something called a PET Scan. It's non- invasive, you lay there with all of your clothes on, that's my favorite thing, and it picks up the cancer. and They have that over at the Lucy Kirshy Center (ph) and that's what picked up my cancer, just like. And it shows if it's anywhere else in the body. And thank god it was not in my liver, it was nowhere else.

KING: One more call, Tillamook, Oregon.

CALLER: First I'd like to say, hi Tammy. My prayers are with. Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi. CALLER: I was wondering -- my question is, are you willing to try experimental treatment?

They have like these Cancer of America and so forth that there's a lot of new things going on.

KING: Are you going to travel out of the country, try something in Europe. Are you going to play the searching?


KING: Steve McQueen did that?

MESSNER: No, because it didn't help once they did it. I think I'm going to stay home, and trust god and trust my doctors and get it taken care of here the way that everybody else does, you know.

KING: A lot of people say, "I'm going to take every shot I can."

MESSNER: I know. I'm not.

KING: There are drugs available to cancer patients where they allow to you take them, even though they are not yet approved by the FDA.

MESSNER: I don't think I would go there, Larry, but who knows?

You always have to eat your words and I don't want to eat my words, so.

KING: Did any doctors say to you the time frame, this is a three-year process, a year process?

MESSNER: No one has told me yet and I'm glad I haven't. Because we can't look around corners, it's a little easier to take.

KING: We said earlier, Everybody's terminal.


KING: We just don't know when.

MESSNER: We all have an appointment with god. We can't cancel it like the dentist or the doctor. It's an appointment, we just don't know when it is. So, we got to stay ready.

KING: Are you pessimistic or optimistic?

MESSNER: I'm an optimist. I was born an optimist. I just always believed all things work together for the good for those that love God and those that are called according to his purpose. I believe God's word. Is believe God's word is always optimism.

KING: But the fear is real.

MESSNER: Well, the fear is real. It's not a sin to be scared, though. What it is, with women fear becomes a sin is when it incapacitates you to where you can't do anything and you want to just give up and you know,forget it all. And I'm not that -- you know, it's good to be afraid sometimes, Larry. There's a good fear.

KING: Now, the chemotherapy begins in April.

MESSNER: In April.

KING: You do it Three times a week for how many weeks?

MESSNER: I don't know how many weeks. It's every two weeks. Every two weeks, three days a week, three days, for every two weeks. So, we must have some time in there, just get feeling that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) time you get to feeling better they knock you down again.

KING: You expect to lose your hair?

You got wigs ready?

MESSNER: Honey, I was born with wigs ready. In fact, I've never worn my hair so much as I have lately. I think it's suits me because I just appreciate that I have good hair. But having the kind of hair I have, which is really tough, it's been through hell, oh, my goodness, I cut it and permed it.


KING: Any other treatment, radiation. Any other treatment or just chemotherapy?

MESSNER: As far as I know right now it's chemotherapy followed with radiation.

KING: Best of luck to you, darling.

MESSNER: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Tammy Faye Messner revealing tonight she has inoperable lung cancer, chemotherapy, begins in April, she will keep us and you posted.

MESSNER: I want to thank people for praying for me. I really appreciate it.

KING: We'll be back in a minute and tell but tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. We will do a major program on that subject tomorrow night.

Speaking of major programs a man who has been doing them every night, he's been checking in. Finally, we get to talk to him directly. He's in Islamabad. He's Aaron Brown, the host "NEWSNIGHT." It's already Friday morning in Islamabad. There he is Aaron doing yeoman like work. Carry on in the great Brown tradition of the world traveler.


International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.