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Interview with Tammy Faye Messner

Aired November 30, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Tammy Faye Messner with some important news about her cancer that she wants to share first with us right here. It's going to be an intense emotional hour of faith and hope and your phone calls. The one, the only Tammy Faye is next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Good evening. Welcome to another edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Back in March of this year Tammy Faye Messner appeared on this program to announce that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer. It was an emotional evening. She was clearly scared about what she was entering into, and she returns to us tonight with some health news first. So how's it -- what can you tell us?

TAMMY FAYE MESSNER, MAKING ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT HER CANCER: Well, Larry, I had a wonderful doctor's visit just about four days ago. I walked into my doctor's office not knowing what to expect. I was scared. I was excited. I had every emotion going through me that could happen to me. The doctor and I sat there and talked a few minutes, and he didn't say anything, and then all of a sudden Dr. Lemontani (ph) said, Tammy, I don't have good news for you, I have great news for you. He said, I had planned to -- I thought I was going to have to put you back on chemotherapy this month but every bit of the cancer is gone. And I am thanking the people who prayed for me, Larry. I'm thanking God. I'm grateful for the doctors who helped me get through this and my family. I am one happy lady today.

KING: I would bet. Now, how were you treated? How did they treat the cancer?

MESSNER: OK. A lot of people ask that. They want to know exactly what was used on me. So I asked my doctor so I wouldn't sound too dumb. They used a chemo called Falfax 5FU (ph). L-e-u-c-o-v-o-r- i-n, Leucovorin. And something called oxsallyplattin (ph) . And I had chemotherapy for five months. I took 11 days off. I had four days where I took chemotherapy. And the first day was 7 1/2 hours. The second day was about 3 1/2 hours. Then the third and fourth day I carried something over my shoulder that fed chemo through me 24 hours a day. And so that was four days. And I'd get 11 more days off and then go back to the four days on again. So that's how it went.

KING: Did you have a rough time with it? MESSNER: I had a very rough time with it. But you know, I think I did better than a lot of people. I was very -- they finally got the sick to my stomach stopped, which is a really hard thing. The inside of your mouth gets so sore from the chemo that you can hardly talk. And so that was a hard thing to go through. I found myself losing strength. I could not touch anything hot or cold, nor could I -- real cold. I don't know what it is that's in the medication they give you. But I could not even put my hand in the refrigerator and touch something cold without getting a shock through my whole body. I could not walk on a cold floor. And even after the chemotherapy, it's been about three months since I've had chemotherapy, and my fingers and my toes are still quite numb. Also, other than the sore mouth and the numbness and the coldness and tired and weakness, I lost my voice. I could barely speak. And I want to say oh, thank you, God, that I can sing again today.

KING: Did you lose your hair?

MESSNER: No. Can't you see?

KING: I mean, it could have...

MESSNER: It just turned blond and grew real long. No, Larry, I didn't lose my hair. I prayed a little prayer that -- it was a girl prayer. And I said, God, please, please, please just let me keep my hair. And you know, God being the fun God he is and the really wonderful God he is allowed me to keep my hair. It broke off. When I laid down at night, I would have little hairs all over my pillow. But it never came out ever. And I was always able to, by spraying my -- I found some spray that was red. And I would spray any little spots that looked like they were getting thin. And so you couldn't ever tell that I had -- that any hair had come out at all. But guess what? I lost all my eyelashes. And I looked up to God, and I said, hey, I thought that was a given. I never dreamed all my eyelashes would fall out. But you know...

KING: You weren't a smoker, right?

MESSNER: No, never in my whole life.

KING: How did you -- did it spread from somewhere else? How did you get the lung cancer?

MESSNER: It spread from colon cancer. I had colon cancer eight years ago. And they say colon cancer very seldom ever comes back. And it spread to my lung, which is very interesting. And I just found out, in fact, three days ago when the doctor told me the good news, I found out that it had also -- some of it had gone to my liver, which I did not know about, and I don't know if he told us and I just didn't remember, or I don't know if he just never said anything to us about it. But they were keeping a close watch on the liver area, also, which had some spots on it. And they're gone, too. Thank you, God.

KING: So right now you are totally cancer-free? If someone were to examine you fully, no cancer? MESSNER: No cancer. I have a two-inch place in my lungs that is gone. The little spots on my left lung are gone. And any spots that were on my -- on the liver is gone. I am at this time cancer-free. Thank you, God.

KING: Now, do you still have to watch this?

MESSNER: They -- every three months they are doing a cat scan and a pet scan, which is -- it's not really fun. In fact, it's kind of a miserable test because you have to drink all this stuff and then they have to take and put a very big needle in your vein to hook you up to this so they can put a color through your system and so that they can see it once you get under the pet scan. So those two are not easy tests, but they can certainly see what they need to see after doing those.

KING: Did you ever think during the past four, five months that you weren't going to make it?

MESSNER: Well, Larry, I trusted God so much. There were times, and I'm not going to -- I'm not going to say there were not times when -- it was like this. You know when somebody dies -- like my brother died. And when he died, every -- I would go to bed at night, and the only calmness I had was when I was sleeping. The moment I woke up and it was going to be a beautiful day, and then I remembered, oh, no, my brother's dead and I'll never see him again.

That's the way it is when you find out you have cancer. You go to bed at night and you can sleep and do fine, and the minute you wake up in the morning this little cloud comes over your head and it's like, oh my, I have cancer. And what you have to do, you have to be emotionally strong enough and mentally tough enough to put those thoughts aside and begin -- I began quoting Scripture. I began quoting First Thessalonians that said in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. And then I went to Isaiah 41:10, and I would say fear not for I am with thee. Be not dismayed for I am thy God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness. And these verses became my lifeboat.

And so whenever the seas got stormy and I couldn't taste anything anymore and I couldn't hardly walk across the room, I could hardly walk up the stairs, I actually would lay in bed whole days, which I've never done in my whole life, and when these things started happening I would just grab onto these Scriptures, and it was like hanging on to a lifeboat, and I'd just keep quoting them and I'd say, God, you're bigger than the word cancer. and that's how I made it through.

KING: You should have seen the oncologist sooner. Is that correct?

MESSNER: Yes. I am so sad that I didn't. About a year -- last Christmas I went and had a physical. And Dr. Marianne Trachler (ph) is my doctor. And she saw that my -- I have to look it up. It's a CEA. She said, Tammy, your CEA number is up, which means that they take a blood test and it tells you if you're more likely to have -- your cancer cells are building up. And she told me last Christmas.

Well, she wrote me two letters in the months that followed and said, Tammy, please go see on oncologist. I just thought I'm not supposed to get cancer again, and I refused this. And I was sort of like an ostrich with my head stuck in the ground thinking as long as I don't face it it won't happen and it couldn't happen again. And so I just didn't go. Even the second time she wrote me I didn't go. I just kind of wrote a little letter back to her, kind of laughing at the fact that I would have cancer. And then I was doing "Surreal Life," and when I went to "Surreal Life," we went to a karaoke bar, and -- where everybody was singing. Well, I've always been able to belt it out with everybody else, and I found out I could not sing. And that's when I got down to business, realizing something was wrong.

KING: We'll take a break and come back, take calls in a little while for Tammy Faye Messner, announcing tonight that as of this minute she is cancer-free. Don't go away.


MESSNER: Do you think if I walk the halls it would drip faster?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shake it up a little bit.

MESSNER: Shake it up a little bit like.





MESSNER: I'll pretend like I'm shopping, and I'll take two of these, please, and one of these, yes. And that one right there. And I'll have to go get my purse, but I'll be right back. Where's it going? It's not dripping at all. Is it still dripping? Do you think I goofed something up, you guys? I think you've had enough for the day.


KING: These scenes we've just shown going into the break and coming out are from a forthcoming documentary called "Death Defying."

Tell us what this is about, Tammy Faye.

MESSNER: Well, it's my walk through the world of cancer. And the people that did "The Eyes of Tammy Faye: The World of Wonder," have been with me since the very first day I started going through cancer treatments. They're the first people in the world ever to see me throw up. I've never thrown up before in my life. I got up after that first treatment, and that's what we just saw, was the first treatment at Eisenhower Hospital with Dr. Vafai (ph). And Dr. Brooks was also there. And I want to thank those doctors. But they let them film. And they've been with me ever since, through the whole ordeal. They've seen me at my very worst.

KING: When will it be released?

MESSNER: I don't know, Larry, when they're planning to release it. I've heard July. I've heard several different dates. So I don't know when they're planning to release it. But I think it will really help people. I think it will help them to understand that you know, that they can make it no matter what. As long as you have life, there is hope, and you can make it. Don't you dare give up.

KING: Have you made -- has this made you now more health conscious?

MESSNER: I think so. I went back to a bad habit that I have. Things go better with Coca-Cola things go better with Coke. My son just declares up and down that I've got to stop drinking so much of the stuff. But it really has made me more health conscious. In fact, I never used to know what a vegetable was or a fruit, you know. I just didn't care about that kind of stuff. I like sweets. And I know sweets feed cancer. So I eat a lot more vegetables. I eat a lot more fruit. I'm taking a lot of vitamins.

And a lot of people say, well, isn't a one a day vitamin enough?

Some of the people who have cancer that I've talked to have asked this. And for me it wasn't because I took vitamins A, B, C, D, E. I took something called barley grass, which is literally grass that just comes in little tablets, and I took four of those per day. I drank aloe juice. I -- Anything Green. Anything that was -- I felt from God's green earth I took. And I felt it certainly couldn't hurt. And so many times when I go in, my blood count would be way up, and the doctors would say what in the world are you doing? You know, you're doing so well with your blood count and all. And I believe it was because I was being very careful to eat right and take a lot of vitamins.

KING: Do you keep in touch with other patients?

Is there a cancer fraternity?

MESSNER: Not that I am aware of. But I meet -- Larry, I meet cancer patients everywhere. Everywhere I go I meet them. And we stand and we talk and we compare notes, and they ask me questions. I have literally received thousands and thousands of e-mails. And so many people, why I'm so glad you allowed me to be with us tonight, because I wanted you to know first. I've shared so many things on your program. But the first thing they want to know is what I took. Well, because some of their chemotherapy is not working at all for them. And so I'm glad I was able to tell what I took because if theirs isn't working maybe what the doctors gave me would work.

KING: Did Jim Baker keep in touch with you through this?

MESSNER: Through the children. He kept in touch through the children. He said I was like the unsinkable Molly Brown, that you couldn't get me down because I'd pop right back up. And I thought that was pretty cute.

KING: And how's your husband dealing with it?

MESSNER: My husband, God bless his heart, he's sitting right over here, and he has helped me -- oh bless his heart. He deals with prostate cancer himself. And he's doing very well, by the way, with that. But he was there all the time, helping me. Everything I did -- if I would cry, he'd just take me in his arms and say it's going to be OK. And one day I was crying because I tried to sing and I couldn't sing and my voice was gone. And he brought me a verse from psalms, and the verse said that one day I would sing again but I would sing a new song.

And so he has dealt with it in such a kind, gentle, caring way. And when I have been down he has been the one that says honey, don't worry, we're going to make it, you're going to make it through this. So he was just throwing my own words back to me. He was preaching my own sermons back to me, and that's what I needed at that time.

KING: Cancer, you will agree is still a terrible word, even though many of them are cured.

MESSNER: It's a terrible word. It's a terrible word. I pray to God that mine -- that this never comes back again. Because I don't know, Larry, that I could go through chemotherapy again. I -- I still get afraid when I hear the word chemotherapy,because I still don't understand how putting poison in your body that kills so many good cells -- you know, where does it all go? How are they directed? They're not directed to just the cancer. And so you wonder. Like I still have -- my feet are still very numb, and my fingers are very numb. Still. I'm -- I still am afraid of chemotherapy.

KING: I'm sure.

MESSNER: And even going through all of this I'm not really convinced about it.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. At the bottom of the hour we'll go to your calls for Tammy Faye Messner. Again, she's not cured, but she is free of cancer. As we go to break, here's a scene from her reality series "The Surreal Life."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the things you have to consider.

MESSNER: You know, he instituted it. I didn't.


MESSNER: And I'd gone through so much hurt.


MESSNER: And pain.


MESSNER: In those 30 years that I thought I can't forgive him unless I let him go, and then I can forgive him.

When I got a divorce, I felt like I divorced not only Jim, I felt like I had divorced my children. I felt like I'd divorced my dogs. I felt like I'd divorced my house. I felt like the whole world hated me. And that was a very hard time for me.

I got to quit this bawling.



KING: We're back with Tammy Faye Messner. By the way, we learned, Tammy Faye, that "Tammy Faye: Death-Defying," which we've shown you a couple of scenes from that documentary, is scheduled to air in July next year on WE, WE, the Women's Entertainment Cable Network.

How are the kids doing?

MESSNER: Oh, the kids -- I'm so proud of my kids. Tammy Sue has a new CD out. And it's called -- oh, oh, I'm going brain dead. At least she has a new CD out. Oh, "There's a Medicine." And I believe she named it that because she went through this cancer with me too. She was at every chemotherapy session with me. And I was trying to teach her how to crochet, and we just made it fun, even though it wasn't fun. We made it fun.

And Jamie Charles is doing wonderful. We are both going to be on -- I'm going to be on "Good Morning America" tomorrow with my -- with both children. And Jamie has a -- of all things, he has a church in a bar in Atlanta, and they meet every Monday, and they are having a wonderful time.

KING: What do you make of all this -- we're going to go to calls at the bottom of the hour.


KING: This emphasis now on religion and values.

MESSNER: I think it's so important, Larry. You know, whether people have good moral values or don't, I think when it all comes down to where the rubber meets the road. In our hearts, we are still one nation under God. And I'm very grateful for that.

KING: What do you make about the gay marriage issue?

MESSNER: Well, I still -- I'll tell you what I tell you every time, that I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and I think that's God's word, and that's the way I believe the Bible teaches it.

KING: But you do support civil unions, do you not?

MESSNER: Civil unions -- this is what I think. I think that gay people ought to be able to go see each other in the hospital if one of them are hospitalized. I believe that they ought to be able to -- if one is dying and knows they're dying, they ought to be able to -- to legally give their possessions to the person that they're with. I believe they ought to have some of those rights, if that's the life that they choose to live.

KING: Haven't you ever doubted your faith?

MESSNER: No. Never.

KING: Even when they told you you have cancer?

MESSNER: Never, Larry. I've never doubted my faith. I've doubted my ability to live my faith, but I have never doubted my faith. I've asked God to help me, to be strong and to keep my eyes upon him, because I know that -- I know that I know that he is there, and no, I have never doubted my faith. At the worst moments of my life, my faith held strong. I had a solid foundation that my mother and grandmother and our church built under me as a young child. And I consequently -- we would be able to build that under our children, too. And I never lost my faith.

KING: So you know it by faith, right? You don't know -- nobody knows knows it, right? You know it, you were raised with it, you believe in it.

MESSNER: And I believe it. And I believe God's word is true. The Bible is true.

KING: So you don't think it was an action against you to give you cancer?

MESSNER: Definitely not. I think God allowed it. I think -- remember old Job? He was sitting there all covered in boils in the ash pit, and his own wife said why don't you just curse God and die? And old Job looked up at his wife and said -- and looked up to God in all of his misery and said, God, though you slay me, yet I'm going to trust you.

And look what happened to Job. The end of Job was so far greater than the beginning of Job was. And so even -- I believe God allows things. Job was able to help out many other people after he went through a horrible experience. And I think God allowed this experience so that I would know.

You cannot truly understand what someone is going through unless you've been there. And believe me, I've been there. And I understand what cancer is. I understand what death is. I was just at the bedside of my girlfriend's dying sister. And she had started out the same way with me, with lung cancer. She was younger than I was. And three days after I was in the hospital visiting her, she died. And as I looked at her, I thought, but for the grace of God, that could be me. And I said another prayer. Thank you, Lord.

KING: But if death brings you to heaven, maybe it's not a bad thing.

MESSNER: I don't think death is a bad thing.

KING: So what are you afraid of?

MESSNER: I'm not afraid of death at all. I get sad about leaving, because who wants to -- you know, I've got kids here. You know, I want to be with my children. I don't want my children to be sad. You know, my kids have been through enough, excuse the word, Christians, crap. That you know, that I don't want to add to their sadness and to their hurt. And this world's a fun place to live, Larry. I love life. I love life. I'm not at all afraid of death. I would just be sad, sad, even though it's where I want to go someday when I die. But I want to be about 96 when that happens.

KING: Well said. We'll take a break and come back and go to your phone calls for Tammy Faye Messner, who joins us with good news tonight. She is as of today cancer-free. 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 there was so many people around who were (UNINTELLIGIBLE) continuing -- 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."


MESSNER: Praise the Lord. So there is hope.



KING: We're back. She's joining us from New York. She's Tammy Faye Messner. Let's go to your calls. Arkansas City, Kansas. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. Congratulations, Tammy.

MESSNER: Thank you.

CALLER: I'm a ten-year cancer survivor myself.

MESSNER: Oh, God bless you.

CALLER: My question is were you ever angry at God?

MESSNER: Yes. I found myself at times angry. But you know, I think when we get really angry at God, he made us, so he knows that we're going to have all kinds of emotions, and he doesn't get mad at us just because we get mad at him. It's OK to be angry and let off a little steam.

KING: To Seattle. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Tammy. I have read your book in 1982 that you wrote about your life.


CALLER: And I've been a fan for 20 years. I'm also Christian. But I'm a makeup artist.

MESSNER: Oh, you are?

CALLER: Yes. I was wondering if you ever thought about wearing less mascara.

MESSNER: No. That answered that question.

KING: Why? Because of the test done for making mascara? Caller? She's gone.

MESSNER: She's gone.

KING: What is the argument against mascara?


KING: Do you know? Yes. Is there an...

MESSNER: I have no idea. People are telling me now they actually -- it's me now, I have become so associated with mascara that it's just me now. But everybody...

KING: But aren't tests done on animals for cosmetics?

MESSNER: I don't -- well, I don't think they're doing that as much anymore, Larry, as they used to do.

KING: New Orleans. Hello.

MESSNER: Mascara on a bunny rabbit? I don't think so.

KING: New Orleans, hello.

CALLER: Yes. Hi, Tammy.


CALLER: You look really good.

MESSNER: Thank you.

CALLER: My husband is a colon cancer survivor with the same exact chemo that you took.

MESSNER: Is that right?

CALLER: That's right. And my question is -- I became a fan of yours during the "Surreal Life." You were fabulous on that.

MESSNER: Thank you.

CALLER: And I wonder if your friends from the show still keep in touch with you during your illness.

MESSNER: Oh, my goodness. Yes, yes, yes. During my whole illness Rob Van Winkle called. That's Vanilla Ice for you who don't know. In fact, Ron just called me. Ron Jeremy just called me three or four days ago. We were going to do a fundraiser for the McDonald House together, and I was summoned to California. So I couldn't. And so I got to tell him that I was cancer-free. And he said, Tammy, my prayers worked, my prayers worked, my prayers worked! And I said, they sure did, Ron. So we were -- yes, we keep in contact. It's really amazing, the friendships that we developed at "Surreal Life."

KING: Stockdale, Texas. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Hi, Tammy.


CALLER: I know you had mentioned about burns in your mouth through the chemo.


CALLER: But did you suffer with any internal burns, and are you going to do another reality show?

MESSNER: I didn't suffer with any internal burns. It was just -- mainly just in my mouth. And I was afraid it could go internally because it affects all of your soft tissue. And no, I'll never do another reality show. But then they say never say never. But I don't plan on it.

KING: Will you do another TV show?

MESSNER: Yes. I would, Larry.

KING: Like?

MESSNER: A variety show. I think I would have so much fun. And I think we would have a good time. But I think everybody thinks I'm too old.

KING: Los Angeles. Hello. CALLER: Hi. I just want to congratulate Tammy Faye on her remission. A friend of mine passed away last year from metastatic colorectal cancer.


CALLER: And he really kicked himself before he passed away for not having a colonoscopy beginning at age 50.

MESSNER: Oh, I know it.

CALLER: My question to Tammy Faye is will you get out there and stump for early detection and prevention? I don't know if you're already doing it. But I think it's so important that people know that it can be prevented.

KING: Absolutely.

MESSNER: You know, that's what I'm trying to do tonight, is let you -- the minute you hear go and get it taken care of. And if you're embarrassed to have a colonoscopy, put a bag over your head, cut two holes in it so you can peek out, and -- that's my suggestion.

KING: Because it's highly -- if you catch it early, it's very curable.

MESSNER: It is. It's one of the most curable cancers there is.

KING: To Portland, Maine. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. Tammy Faye, I'm so glad to hear and see that you're doing better. I really admire you. I lost my two children in an accident earlier this year.

MESSNER: Oh, my.

CALLER: And I look at you and all you have been through. How do you keep your positive attitude and get up every day and just have hope that it's going to get better? Because I don't have that and I wonder how you do it through everything you've been through.

MESSNER: Honey, I want to tell you something, all children go to heaven. Every child that dies go to Heaven. And they're little angels now flying around up there waiting for you. And so you know that they are safe in the arms of Jesus. I think the worst thing that can happen in the whole world is for your child to die before you do. And I will certainly be praying that the Lord will give you peace in your heart over this.

KING: By the way, Tammy Faye, did you see "The Passion of the Christ?"


KING: What'd you think? MESSNER: I loved it. It was like I was right there with Jesus. And I could hardly stand it when they were beating him. I actually had to close my eyes because I couldn't stand it. But they say that -- and somebody said they overdid the beating part. No, they didn't. Because they said he was beaten until he was unrecognizable. And I think anyone who wonders about Jesus ought to see that.

KING: Wichita, Kansas, for Tammy Faye Messner. Hello.

CALLER: Hello.

MESSNER: That's where Rose is from.

CALLER: My question to you -- hello.

KING: Yes. Go ahead.


CALLER: I didn't hear what you were taking in the beginning. I'm a stage 4 colon cancer in both lungs...

MESSNER: Let me tell you...

CALLER: Did you ever take Avastin (ph)?


CALLER: And what did you take and how often did you take it?

MESSNER: Well, the chemotherapy was every four -- I did it four days and was off 11, did it four days and was off 11.

KING: OK. Repeat slowly what you took.

MESSNER: OK. I took Falfax. 5fu, whatever that is. Leucovorin. And then Oxsaliplatin (ph). Those were the things that they gave me. That was the mixture they gave me. And I took vitamins, lots of vitamins, and anything green. You know, I took A, B, C, D, E. I took -- I'm looking at my notes because I am -- barley grass. Barley was mentioned in the Bible. When Jesus fed the -- broke the loaves, had the loaves, two loaves and five fishes, that was barley loaves that he served to that crowd. And so barley is in the Bible. And it can't hurt you, and it certainly may help. I would do some holistic medicine. I would do some looking around at other things to strengthen -- because what will strengthen your immune system, and then that will help to heal itself.

KING: Are you on any medication now?


KING: Hillsborough, Wisconsin, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Tammy, you and I sat together in the Houston airport comparing jewelry. MESSNER: Oh, my gosh.

CALLER: Yes. And I'm so happy. I knew you were going to beat this. My husband died because he ignored the...

MESSNER: I know.

CALLER: And in fact, we talked about that because Earl (ph) was going through the treatments. And I just wanted to ask you, to what do you attribute your deep faith? Was it your parents? Was it a pastor? A born again experience? What brought you to this deep, faith that you have?

MESSNER: Well, when I was a little girl, I went to church. And one night I received -- I got down at an old-fashioned altar and I gave my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ when I was 10 years old. At that time I received something called the baptism of the holy spirit with evidence and speaking in tongues. And that is power. It's like an extra added power in your life. I was never the same from that day until this. I know that it's that power in my life that I received as a little girl that I believe has helped me through everything. Up until today that's been -- I won't say how many years ago.

KING: North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Hello.

CALLER: Tammy. You look absolutely great.

MESSNER: Oh, thank you.

CALLER: I am a breast cancer survivor.

Also lung cancer. And I just recently finished my rounds of chemo. And I was just wondering that if your cancer were to return, God forbid, how could you not consider chemo an option?

MESSNER: You know, I would have to struggle with that decision. And I can't give you an answer on that. Because I would have to struggle with the decision. I know a lot of people -- you say you took chemo -- you've taken chemo, what, three different times?

CALLER: I recently finished Adriamycin (ph).

MESSNER: So what, has it been two or three different times you have taken chemo?

CALLER: Right. I've had chemo once but I've had major surgeries. I've had about seven surgeries.

MESSNER: I don't know. I would have to really think about it. And I'm just being honest about it. I'm sure chemo was part of the help that do got me well, but I don't know what other effects it does to the body that might come down the pike in, say, four or five years. I had two girlfriends that died. They both had cancer. But they died five years later. And they did not die of cancer. They died of the effects of chemotherapy. And I talked to my doctor about this, and he said, yes, that can happen. KING: We'll take a break and be back with more of Tammy Faye Messner on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


MESSNER: Would have never allowed a chair like this to sit at Heritage USA, it would have been painted. He never allowed a light bulb to be out. He never allowed a dirty restroom. He never allowed grass to grow uncut. And he would have never allowed this. When I look at this chair, rusted away, that's sort of what's happened to Heritage USA. And how I would love to put a fresh coat of paint on it.




MESSNER: A lot of you today may have a lot of people strapped to your back who have hurt you. It may be your mom for not accepting you. It may be your dad or some family member for not accepting you as you are. But you need to unstrap who's ever hurt you. Get them off your back. And go forward and live.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was the most touching, loving, incredible moment. Tammy showed me how to give myself permission to let go of people or things that bring me down.

MESSNER: Let them down. Let them go. And move on!


KING: Another scene from "The Surreal Life."

We go to Ozark, Missouri. Hello.

CALLER: Tammy.


CALLER: This is David Murphy.

MESSNER: Hello, David.

CALLER: How are you doing?

MESSNER: I'm doing just great, thank you.

CALLER: You remember you and I were king and queen of bible camp?


CALLER: You do?

MESSNER: That goes a long way back. Lake Geneva, right?

CALLER: I won't say what year.


CALLER: I won't say what year though.

MESSNER: No lets not say what year.


MESSNER: The Lake Geneva Bible Camp, they always had a king and queen. And you were king one year, and I was queen. Only time I've ever been queen.

CALLER: Right.

MESSNER: It's nice to talk to you.

CALLER: Catch you later.


KING: Thank you. Ah, old friends, always nice to hear from them.

Kansas City, Missouri, hello.

CALLER: Hi. How are you?


CALLER: Hi, Tammy. You look absolutely fabulous.

MESSNER: Oh, thank you.

CALLER: I want to say you are such an inspiration. Can I ask you, do you ever plan on doing any evangelistic work on television again?

MESSNER: You know, I would really like to. And something very interesting has come up. One of the stations we're talking to right now, we've just been talking to a little bit about it, has thought about letting me have my own church service on Sunday morning. And I just think that would be right down my alley, that would be lots of fun, because we could have a great time for the people who don't go to church, would have a place where they could tune in and we could all worship together. And I think that would be fun. So I kind of hope that comes about.

KING: Detroit, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Tammy.


CALLER: God bless you. Hi, Tammy.

KING: Hi. Go ahead.


CALLER: Hi. We are so glad for you.

MESSNER: Thank you.

CALLER: I have a question for you. My sister is a devout Born Again Christian. Like you, she has a lot of faith. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and she has refused chemotherapy and radiation in any traditional form of medicine. She relies totally on her faith in God and on a holistic diet. And I was wondering if you could share your thoughts about this.

MESSNER: Well, I've seen it work both ways. I believe in -- I believe in -- I'm a realist. And I believe if you don't receive a healing from God that you know you have received that healing. I think you have to go ahead and then do what your doctors say. I think that it has to be between her and God, but if she doesn't get healed she'd better get to the doctor and get something done.

KING: Bethel, Oklahoma. Hello.

CALLER: Tammy Faye, I have a question about when did you first realize when you were a young girl or a young woman that you wanted to give your life to God?

MESSNER: I first realized it when I was probably about 7, 8- years-old. And my family was a churchgoing family. And I thought everybody seemed so happy. That's what led me -- what made me want to be a Christian, because everybody I knew that was a Christian was so happy all the time and I wanted that happiness. And so finally at 10- years-old I decided to make the commitment. And boy, it was right on. I knew -- I found out why they were happy.

KING: San Francisco, hello.

CALLER: Yes. Hello, Tammy.


CALLER: Hi. How are you feeling?

MESSNER: I'm feeling wonderful.

CALLER: I'm a cancer survivor. And now I'm clean about a year. And my son now -- not now, but he's been suffering from colon cancer, and it's going nearly five years. So, I was just wondering, he takes different kinds of medicine. What were you taking? I know, you had a whole list.

MESSNER: OK. I'll do it one more time.

CALLER: OK. MESSNER: What do you want to know, the chemo I was taking or the vitamins?

KING: The chemo.

MESSNER: OK. FOLFOX, 5FU, Leucovorin, and Oxaliplatin. That's the chemo that I took. And I was on 11 days. I took it for 11 days and was -- I took it for four days and was on 11 days. And so that's how I just continued.

KING: Also, what did you take for the colon cancer, do you remember?

MESSNER: For the colon cancer -- oh, I just took lots of vitamins. A, B, C, D, E...

KING: But no chemo?

MESSNER: No chemo. When I had colon cancer, I took no -- they operated, they got it all. And I was out of the hospital in three days. They took 14 inches of my colon out.

KING: We'll take a break...

MESSNER: And I was eight years free.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with our remaining moments with Tammy Faye Messner. Quite a lady. Don't go away.


MESSNER: That is where Jim and I have been. The sorrow and the grief and the hurt. And we had absolutely nothing left. Reputation destroyed. Everything gone. But God. Oh, my.

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




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


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

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


KING: "Saturday Night Live," having fun with Tammy Faye Messner.

MESSNER: I love it. I love it. I love it. I laugh harder than anybody else.

KING: Who can laugh at herself. To Martha's Vineyard. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. Tammy Faye, I would just like to ask you, do you feel any guilt at all for all the people who lost money in the real estate schemes from Heritage USA?

MESSNER: Well, I think you're talking about something you don't know anything about right now. And -- and I don't wish to talk about that. It's over. It's been 20 years.

KING: But the question was a fair one. He asked if you feel personal guilt.

MESSNER: You always do. You always feel sadness. You always feel sadness for people that are hurt. I will always feel sad for what happened at Heritage USA. It will always haunt me. But you can't -- you can't go back. If you go back, then you can't go forward.

KING: Barrie, Ontario. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. Good evening, Larry. Good evening, Tammy.


CALLER: I just recently went through chemo. So I know how you feel. I had (UNINTELLIGIBLE), which is what actually affects your mouth, can affect the soft tissue.

MESSNER: Oh, is that what that is?

CALLER: Yes. It didn't for me. I was very lucky. But I was wondering. You said that when you had colon cancer eight years ago, why chemo was not offered then. I thought it was standard.

MESSNER: Well, it was offered. But they told me they had gotten all the cancer. And so they suggested I take chemo, but I thought no, I feel fine, everything is going fine. And I made the decision myself not to do it. And I was eight years free of cancer. So I think I made the right decision for myself at that time.

KING: Atlanta, hello.

CALLER: Hey, Larry. Hey, Tammy. Congratulations, Tammy. You look wonderful.

MESSNER: Thank you.

CALLER: Glad to see you're in good health. I've got a quick question for you. After your ordeal with Jerry Falwell, how despicably he treated you, did that man find any...

MESSNER: The J word!

CALLER: ... temerity in his soul and at least do the Christian thing and send you a get well card?

MESSNER: Yeah, I did not get a get well card from Jerry, no. But that's OK, Jerry. It's all right.

KING: Do you bear him ill will?

MESSNER: None. None, Larry. If I saw him, I'd probably just start crying.

KING: I don't know how to take that. Toronto, hello.

CALLER: Hey, Tammy Faye.


CALLER: Glad to see that you're feeling better.

MESSNER: Thank you.

CALLER: I have a question for you.


CALLER: With the recent results of the presidential election, how do you feel about the growing influence of fundamental Christians on American politics, and do you believe in separation of church and state?

MESSNER: I -- you know, I'm one of the few people probably that really don't believe in separation of church and state. I think the two should be able to work together. I really do. And I'm very excited about the fact that Christian values in our country are growing. I think that can do nothing but help everybody. I mean, if everybody would be a little kinder, if everyone would show a little bit more compassion, the whole world would be happier if we would just love each other. And I think to truly love each other we need Christ in our lives and in our schools and in our places of business.

KING: Where are you living, Tammy?

MESSNER: I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. I'm back to the South again.

KING: Do you preach at all anymore?

MESSNER: I do. I still minister the Gospel. And looks like I'm going to be able to sing again, Larry, which makes me very excited. I have a meeting on -- in January, I believe it is, with Ringo Starr, and we're talking about doing something together, which has -- is really exciting for me music-wise.

KING: Let us know about it. And thanks so much.

MESSNER: I will.

KING: And congratulations. And stay healthy.

MESSNER: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Tammy Faye Messner, with the news tonight that she is free of cancer. It's not cured, but free of it. If you ran a test, it would show no cancer at all. And we thank her very much for being with us.

And I'll come back and tell you about tomorrow night right after this. Don't go away.


KING: The Ted Binion murder case, an extraordinary story in Las Vegas. The two people on trial were acquitted, and one of them, Ted Binion's ex-wife, will be our guest tomorrow night. That should be interesting.

Always interesting, however, there is never a doubt about whether it's interesting or not, is "NEWSNIGHT." And why? Not so much because of what's inside of it, but the man who hosts it. He could do anything. In fact, Aaron Brown one night will read the phone book, and you will be riveted. That's what we think of Aaron Brown, the host of "NEWSNIGHT." Nice gray tie against the blue shirt. Looks good. Go.


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