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Encore Presentation: Interview With Tammy Faye Messner

Aired July 31, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Tammy Faye Messner, repeating her first live, prime-time interview since announcing that her cancer was back for the third time. Isn't there a limit, though?
TAMMY FAYE MESSNER, TV PERSONALITY: No. There's never a limit with God.

KING: It's an emotional, inspirational hour. The one and only Tammy Faye next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening in New York. There will be a documentary special that will air Monday night, July 25 on Women's Entertainment Network. The documentary is "Tammy Faye: Death Defying." It debuts on that channel. The Women's Entertainment Channel on Monday the 25th. It's from the same team that did that brilliant documentary "The Eyes of Tammy Faye."

She was last with us in April the night after we discovered that Peter Jennings had lung cancer. And now the news is that yours has what, returned?


KING: How'd they find out?

MESSNER: They're going to have to start calling it the lungs of Tammy Faye.

KING: This is the third time.

MESSNER: This is the third time. Because I went ten years without it, got colon cancer, they took out 14 inches of my colon. And I went ten years without it. And then I -- but then I found out I had it again.

KING: Now, its' throat or lung? That was lung cancer or colon again?

MESSNER: It was colon cancer. And so now then the colon cancer spread to my lung, which is a two inch tumor, to kind of catch people up. I beat that. That's where the documentary was. That was done, a year ago.

KING: With surgery or without?

MESSNER: No. It was inoperable, so I had to beat it with chemotherapy.

KING: When you came on this show, the night that you had announced that you had defeated it, but it hadn't been five years.

MESSNER: No, it had only been one year.

KING: So how did you know you had beaten it? I thought it was a five-year.

MESSNER: Well, you know, I feel if you've beaten it you've beaten it. If you got it a few weeks you've beaten it for good.

KING: They told you it was gone?

MESSNER: They said it was gone. And then I felt like I had broken my back, Larry, about four weeks ago. And I couldn't figure out what was wrong with my back. And so they sent me to have a -- well, I was going to write down these things so I sounded really...


MESSNER: An MRI, you're right. Have you ever had an MRI?

KING: Just once when I had a headache.

MESSNER: That is the weirdest machine I've ever been in. It clunks and clangs and they give you something to cover your ears and play music in your ears, but you can still hear that clunking and clanging and banging. It was wild.

And found that there was a tumor right next to my 11th vertebrae. And they felt that the tumor was cancerous and so they decided to give me radiation, which I've never had before to take the pain away. And thank God, after 14 treatments of radiation, the pain did go away. It's all gone, thank God. But then on my next C.A.T. Scan, they discovered two millimeters of cancer in the same place it had been before back in my lung again.

KING: Also inoperable?

MESSNER: Inoperable, yep.

KING: What's the prognosis?

MESSNER: I think it's very good.

KING: Based on?

MESSNER: I think it's wonderful. They said, my land, you know, you beat it for ten years the first time. What's to say you haven't got ten more good years.

KING: How are they going to treat it?

MESSNER: They're going to treat it with chemotherapy. And they have a brand new chemotherapy out now. In fact, two different -- they're going to use three different ones on me. On my husband's birthday.

KING: He has prostate cancer.

MESSNER: August 1, we're going in for my first chemotherapy treatment. And they've given me a pill -- thank God it's not a horse pill. Because usually when they give you a pill, they're that big. And then what it does, it cuts off the supply of blood to tumors. And they say they've had great success with that.

KING: Are you going to lose your hair?

MESSNER: I don't know, Larry if I'm going to lose my hair or not. I asked the doctor if I was going to lose my hair. He said well it may thin, but he looked at its nurse and he said, if you lose it, you can just blame it on her.

KING: You didn't finish your whole chemo the last time, right?

MESSNER: I didn't finish it all, I quit. But thank God I quit, because I wouldn't need to take any more of it. When I quit, they said it was over. You're lucky, it's over, you know.

KING: Why are you so bouncy?

MESSNER: Well, Larry, you know the answer to that question. But I'm also always glad to answer. I just love God so much. And I trust God with me.

KING: Isn't there a limit, though?

MESSNER: No, there's never a limit with God. You know, the Bible says in first Thessalonians, and it's found in 5:18, "in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." And I hang onto that verse just like a life raft.

And I believe he knows where I am. The day that he put me in my mother's womb he knew the number of my days and he's not going to short-shoot me.

KING: So then you don't have free will? He knows when you're going to die?

MESSNER: I think he knows, yes. I feel that we can probably take ourselves off to our own stupidity, you know, if I went and committed suicide I'm sure that would not be God's will for my life.

KING: Do you have trouble balancing spiritual faith and medical science?

MESSNER: I think that's been the hardest thing for me -- and it's the hardest thing for me to talk about. Because I was raised in a Pentecostal Church, the Assemblies of God, and I was raised to believe in miracles. I think of all the years we grew up. My family never went to a doctor, not one single time. And we just believed in God. And my family was never sick. There was eight of us kids. We were never sick. We just went to the church when we had a problem and were prayed for, anointed with oil and we were prayed for and everybody got along fine.

When I was a little girl, Oscar E. Eliason, who wrote "God any rivers you think are uncrossable, God any mountains you can't tunnel through, God specializes in things, though impossible, and he can do what no other power can."

I went into epileptic convulsions soon after I was born. And instead of taking me to the doctor like most mothers, my mother called Oscar Eliason who was at that time the pastor of my church. And Oscar came and he prayed for me and put his hand on me and prayed for me. And he said, now, Rachel he said...

KING: Rachel?

MESSNER: Rachel was my mama. He said that might return, but he said if it does, you lay your hand on her head and you just say, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, and it will never come back. It never came back.

KING: But it won't work now, does it?

MESSNER: Oh, it works. I believe it works. I believe I wouldn't be here if it didn't work.

KING: You can't lay your hand...

MESSNER: Oh, yes, we can. We can lay our hand. And we can believe God.

KING: So, then Why do you keep getting...

MESSNER: I just didn't get a miracle. Miracles are one thing. And healing is another thing, Larry. Healing takes awhile. And healing may have to use the doctors. And may have to use the medicines, because God made medicine. He created the doctors and gave them that wealth of knowledge. He created the people who are researchers, and so to give us a longer life. That is when he heals us. But when the miracle happens, it's instantaneously.

KING: But logically he also had to create cancer.

MESSNER: No, I don't think he did. I think the devil did that.

KING: That's the devil's work.

MESSNER: That's the devil's work. I'll just sing the whole song, "one, two, three, the devil's after me."

KING: Your optimism is incredible, you know, that you keep on keeping' on.

MESSNER: Well, I had three wild women in my life. But they were all 4'11, one was my mother and she raised eight kids. And oh, my mom was something else, funny, funny, funny. And then I had an Aunt Jen who I worked for at S.W. Woolworth's. And she wouldn't let me be one minute late. She says, listen, because you belong to me you got to be five minutes early. And she is meaner than a little -- oh, man, she could be mean if I rode my bike there five minutes late. So, I knew I always had to be early. And my grandma, Fairchild was the one -- you don't have pity parties around me. You can eat the cake, but you can't have the party.

KING: So you've got all of this strength.

MESSNER: From these women. I had tough women in my -- and now here I am 4'11 being tough on my kids saying don't you dare give up.

KING: We'll take a break and come back with Tammy Faye. And we'll ask about doing the documentary. We'll also be including your phone calls. Don't go away.


MESSNER (voice-over): Before I could begin the chemo, I had to have something called a port put into my chest.

(on camera): We got to the hospital and to me it turned into a far bigger deal than I ever dreamed it could be, because they literally treat it like it was -- like it was very serious surgery, where I thought having a catheter put in would just be the matter of a little snip, and put it in and that was it. But they had all of these people come and talk to me. And I had to sign all of these papers, in case you die papers. In case you bleed to death.




MESSNER: I met a lady yesterday at the beauty parlor, and she was buying wigs, and she was a little cold right at first, and then after she heard me talking about getting a wig just in case I lose my hair, and she says, I've lost my hair, and she took her wig off.


MESSNER: And I started crying. I just -- oh, man, we just bonded right there, you know.


KING: That documentary, "Tammy Faye: Death Defying" debuts on the Women's Entertainment Channel, Monday, July 25th. Same team did "The Eyes of Tammy Faye." Why did you do this? Why did you allow them to follow you around the hospitals?

MESSNER: You know, Larry, I wanted to demystify it a little bit, I wanted to take some of the fear out of it. Because when you find out you have a debilitating disease that could kill you, and all people hear, you know, they hear about going through these machines, and they hear about all the sticks and the needles, and all of the things that go on behind the scenes, but they never get to see it. And I felt it would help take fear away from people if they saw somebody that they kind of knew, and saw them going through it and making it through it. I thought that would help them.

KING: But also shows your vulnerability, doesn't it? Shows you have some pretty bad moments in there.

MESSNER: I had some pretty bad moments. I give it. I didn't care. Because I wanted to let them know that, sure, there are going to be some bad moments, but by golly, there is going to be some good ones, too.

KING: So you -- and when you were doing this, you didn't know it would reoccur, right?

MESSNER: Had no idea, no.

KING: So did they get that into the documentary?

MESSNER: They did get that into the documentary. They added a tail on the end of it, saying that it had reoccurred.

KING: So when they were doing this, you were cancer -- their thoughts were you were cancer-free and how you beat it.

MESSNER: Oh, yeah, that's right. And how I beat it. And it made me just sick, because that was a year ago. I said, if they had run the thing when they should have, but you know television. Hurry up and wait!

KING: Your husband has had long-time prostate cancer.

MESSNER: Ten years.

KING: He's doing watchful waiting, right?

MESSNER: Yes, he's doing watchful waiting. (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Now, who comforts who?

MESSNER: Well, he really comforts me, because he acts like he never even needs comforting. But he does. But he's the only one that sees me crying. I will say the third time, when I found out this time, I was sitting in the car, Larry, after coming out, when the doctor told me, well, Tammy, it's come back. My first words...

KING: Is that the way he said?

MESSNER: He said, "it's come back," and the first words out of my mouth were not very spiritual. I said, "oh, crap." And then I got out in the car and I looked at Roe, and Roe looked at me, and I could feel water coming down my cheeks. And I didn't think I was crying. And something happened to me. I heard -- a verse came to me, and I knew it had to be from the Bible. And this is what it was. It said, "he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season. His leaves also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."

And I said to Roe, "Roe, where is that in the Bible?" I know that's in the Bible. I know God just gave me that verse about my leaves will not wither, and I'll be like a tree planted by the water. And Roe knew just exactly where it was. It's Psalms 1, Verse 2. It just came to me.

KING: Now, frankly, aren't you scared?


KING: You're not scared?

MESSNER: I'm not scared. I'm sad, kind of. I find myself getting more sad than scared. Because like I said, the last time when I was with you, that you have to -- you keep thinking about, maybe this will be the last time I do this, or will this be the last time we do this. And you've got to get those fears out of you. You've got to get that away, get away from me, you know, and quit thinking this is going to be the last time.

KING: How are your children dealing with it?

MESSNER: My kids did something so unbelievable. My daughter and son got together and talked about it, and Tammy Sue told me, she said, "mom, we're not going to insist this time that you take chemo." They said, "we just want you to feel good, and we know that you don't feel good when you're taking chemo. We want you to be the best you can be. So if you decide to take it and fight it and we are going to go with you on that, and if you decide not to, we're going to go with you on that, mom."

KING: But fear is that it spreads, right? And so...

MESSNER: Yeah, well, that's cancer. See, it always goes one more spot, it seems like.

KING: It's a civil war in the body.

MESSNER: Yes, it is.

KING: Billy Graham recently on this program said, "I know what's ahead. It's a paradise. We're going to go into it, because we will be in the presence of God, and it will be paradise," and he'd be happy, happy if he died that night.

MESSNER: Well, I don't want to be on the next busload. Because I feel I have so much life in me. And Billy's what, 80, almost 90 years old. I mean, if I live until then, maybe I'd be glad to die the next night, too. But I've got so much living to do yet, I feel like, and so I don't want to go on the next busload.

KING: So you don't feel God has let you down?

MESSNER: Oh, no, no, no, no. I wish I would have brought this picture with me. I have a picture I keep in my Bible, and it's of a 45-year-old man who had a stroke, and his wife dressed him all up in a suit. And he's sitting in a wheelchair, and in the wheelchair, he's all bent over like this, and she took his little black dog and she sat his little dog in his lap. He loved that little dog. He didn't even know that little dog was there. But here sits that little dog, and the man in the wheelchair has to have everything done for him, can't lift his arms, can't walk, can't speak, can't do anything.

And here I am. I can walk around New York. I can talk. I can do my own hair, put my eyelashes on. I can jump out of bed in the morning. Sure, I might feel sick to my stomach. Sure, I might feel really tired, but at least I can walk and I can talk, and I can be a part of the world.

And I said, God, if you're going to heal anybody, if you're going to give anybody a miracle, I put my hand on that picture every night. I say, give this young man a miracle. He's the one that deserves it.

KING: The extraordinary Tammy Faye Messner. We'll include your phone calls. The special will air, the documentary, on Monday. Don't go away.


MESSNER: Did you get it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just the last drop.

MESSNER: The last -- just the last drop. Yay, yay, yay.

Well, I did really good during the chemo, and that's when I thought, boy, this is going to be -- this is not any big deal.

When I realized what was happening, thankfully she had a bag ready. I threw up all the way home in the car. And then I got home and kept throwing up and throwing up, and I got good at being sick.




MESSNER: Of all the things that I really dislike about chemotherapy is carrying around this dumb bag. This thing has to go with me everywhere. I do seven-and-a-half hours one day, then the next day, I do like four-and-a-half hours, and then they put me on this, which is a chemotherapy drug that fits inside this bag, and there it is. And it feeds chemotherapy through this line and into my chest, where there's a port, and it feeds it in for two days, and then it worries me a little bit that that is being infused into me 24 hours a day. That is frightening to me.


KING: Let's go to calls for Tammy Faye. Banning, California. Hello. Hello? Want to speak up? Are you there? Banning --

CALLER: Hello?

KING: Are you there. Go ahead, speak.

CALLER: Yes, I'm sorry, Larry.

KING: That's all right.

CALLER: Tammy, you mentioned a pill they give you that cuts the blood supply to tumors.


CALLER: Do you know what that is?

MESSNER: Bless your heart, I wish I would have written that down. And I did not bring that with me. But it's a brand new pill any doctor will know about, and it cuts off the blood supply to the tumor, and therefore -- and they said they have had very good success rate with it. They'll know what it is, because it's brand new.

KING: Thank you. We'll keep the calls coming. Do you ever see -- I know they talk in the Christian faith of the end of days --


KING: -- and Armageddon. Do you see that coming?


KING: You do. So you believe in that

MESSNER: I believe in that. Yes, I do.

KING: So you believe that you're going to go to heaven?

MESSNER: I believe I am. I'm counting on it. I sure don't want to go to hell.

KING: You are -- I'm always amazed whenever I see you, at your buoyancy and how you keep this up. Now, inside, you got to be --

MESSNER: Inside, I just cry by myself, I do. Sometimes I'm -- I was in the bathtub the other night and just crying my eyes out, and just thanking God, I was just thanking God for all of the wonderful things that he has allowed me to have during my run on earth here, you know, and thanking him for everything. But I really was saying, you know, Lord, please heal me or take me, you know. You get to the -- there are times when you get to the wit's end, but nobody sees that but me.

KING: Fontana, California for Tammy Faye. Hello.

CALLER: Hello?


CALLER: Tammy Faye, I followed you over the years, and I love you as a fellow sister in Christ. I am a Christian myself, and I just pray for you, and I hope you will beat this. But my question to you is, we all know the power of prayer.


CALLER: But my question, honey, is why do you put so much faith, minister healing you? It's only going to be through God.

MESSNER: Oh, yes, a minister is just a conduit. It's just a faith conduit. No, I don't go to ministers and have them pray for me. Even all of my fellow minister friends whom I really love, you know, just that I'm obeying the Bible. The Bible says you're supposed to go and be anointed with oil and have them pray the prayer of faith. But it's just a conduit. Because I know what's going to heal me is the faith I have inside of me.

KING: Hershey, Pennsylvania, hello.

CALLER: Hey, Tammy Faye.


CALLER: Hi! A, my dad beat cancer 30 years ago. B, what is the prognosis, should the radiation and chemo not work? Can they possibly do surgery?

MESSNER: They can't do surgery, and I don't know why. It's too close to my heart, and so I guess, then God would really have to do a miracle.

KING: The radiation that you used for your back, what was it, was it cancer of the back?

MESSNER: That was -- that little tumor had cancer in it, but it did not go into my bones and it did not go into my spine.

KING: You mentioned during the break that radiation was worse than chemotherapy.

MESSNER: I thought it was. I thought it was worse. It was really hard for me to take, because you get so desperately tired. You get desperately sick to your stomach, and you just feel totally drained, and I'm not a person who -- I have so much energy that for me to feel that way was really awkward, because on chemotherapy, at least they can give you little shots of things that help your energy, they rebuild your blood cells and helps your energy come back.

KING: Have you heard from Jim Bakker?

MESSNER: Yes. Jim calls me the unsinkable Molly Brown. He said I don't worry about her. She'll pop right back up again.

KING: Did he call you since...

MESSNER: He hasn't called me since then, but he talks to my kids, and so they all, my kids and Jim, keep in contact. He has joined his Web site with my Web site, because they get so many questions that they don't have an answers for so they can just go to my Web site and get the answers.

KING: Do you hear from your friends in the gay community?

MESSNER: Oh, yes. They're so kind to me. They always go around, thumbs up, you can make it. And I feel we're all, especially the ones that have AIDS, I feel we're all fighting basically the same battle.

KING: Your documentary was at a gay film festival.

MESSNER: Yes, it was. And I got to play the big organ and the theater was so much fun. I just enjoyed it, and I got -- I could not believe it. never stopped while I was there.

KING: Why do you think you're so popular among that element?

MESSNER: Well I thought it was the eye lashes until I lost them and they didn't care. Now I don't know!

KING: You don't know what it is?

MESSNER: I just know -- I think they love someone who loves them, and I think that they -- I really do. I think they know the sincerity in my heart when I say I love you and I don't judge you.

KING: Many of your flock do not judge -- do not love them.

MESSNER: Do judge. Yes, I know that and I preached to them about that, too.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Tammy Faye Messner. The special will air on Monday night on the Women's Entertainment Network. Don't go away.


MESSNER: I'm getting ready to go in and have CAT Scans and PET Scans again. They have to do this, well, every couple of months, because they have to know how much chemotherapy to give you, and know if it is working on the tumor. I'm ready.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you get a good rest?

MESSNER: I did rest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All righty. Come on back this way.




KING: This just in to CNN, at least 30 people were killed and 107 injured in three explosions early Saturday morning in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheik and nearby Naama Bay, popular tourist destinations on the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian interior ministry said at least one of the explosions at the city's old market was caused by a car bomb, the ministry said. The cause of the other two explosions in a parking lot at Naama Bay and the Ghazala Hotel not yet known. The explosions happened about 1:15 a.m., that's 6:15 p.m. Eastern time Friday.

A physician at the Sharm el-Sheik hospital, Dr. Adel Taher, told CNN that he's treated at least 50 people wounded in the blast, although he has not personally seen any of the fatalities. He said every available doctor in the area has come to the hospital to assist the blast victims.

In Egypt in October, attackers struck the Taba Hilton and nearby camping areas around the Ras al Sultan and Tarabeen in a series of bomb blasts, then killing 34 people.

Our guest is Tammy Faye Messner. She will be on the W.E. Network. This coming Monday night in a special about her battle with cancer, a cancer that has returned.

MESSNER: I want to give the folks a little bit of a -- I want to tell them how I make it through those tubes, because I have panic attacks really bad when they put you in those tubes. You could get a panic attack. And a lot of people do that, you know.


MESSNER: Yes, the MRI, the C.A.T. Scan, the P.E.T. Scan. And I do, I close my eyes before I go in and I don't open my eyes until I'm already back out, so I don't know when I was coming or going.

KING: How long is it, about an hour and a half?

Depends on your size.

MESSNER: Depends on your size, I guess.

KING: So for you, it was quick.

MESSNER: With me it was quick.

KING: Appleton, Wisconsin, hello.

CALLER: Hi Larry. Hi Tammy.


CALLER: Hi. Tammy, I saw you on the "Surreal Life" TV show. And you impressed people with how you are an accepting Christian. But as you know, not all Christians are accepting. So, I'm wondering what you can do to show Christians that they should not judge people who are different, but love them instead. Because you give a message of love to everyone. And it just radiates through you. God bless you.

MESSNER: Oh, thank you. Well, I talk to pastors. I talk to people every time I get a chance, and let them know that God is love. The Bible says God is love. And you're never -- you catch more -- they always say you catch more -- I'm going to mess it up, more flies with honey. And if you're going to go around telling people that they're no good -- I don't want to be around anybody telling me I'm a no good, good for nothing. That isn't going to help me get closer to anybody.

I think, when you reach out with love and acceptance and care about people. Jamie Charles was just let go. He was scheduled to speak at this huge convention, and because of his love for gays and his acceptance and his ministry with the gays, they canceled him. And I thought, what a sad world we are living in.

KING: New York City, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Tammy Faye.


CALLER: I love you.

MESSNER: Thank you.

CALLER: I just wanted to say you're such an inspiration. You even managed to be inspiring on that show, the "Surreal Life." I watched it originally as sort of a goof. And I just -- but you were so inspiring, you even seemed to reach people like Ron Jeremy. And I wondered if you managed to stay in touch with him?

MESSNER: Ron just called me -- in fact, he called me today. Hi, Ron! He called today. And I wasn't able to return his call. But he'll come into Charlotte. And when he comes into Charlotte, Roe and I take him out to eat.

And we have a very good friendship. In fact, I managed to stay friends with all of our gang on the "Surreal Life," which has been real fun. I just talked to Eric and I also just talked to Vanilla Ice, Rob Van Winkle. And then I left a message on Trishelle's machine, because I'm like her other mother, you know, trying to keep her in line.

KING: Do you want to come back to TV?

MESSNER: I would like to, Larry. I would like to a lot. I've been given some offers. And I'm really hoping one will come through. And there's one, there is one offer -- and I can't tell who it's from -- but they would like me to do a Sunday morning service on a real -- it's a real wild offer. And I think it would be so fun to do.

KING: East Norwich, New York, hello.

CALLER: Hi Larry. Hi Tammy.


MESSNER: Hi. CALLER: Hi. My husband is five years cancer free. He heard the stories of cancer survivors during his treatment, it was a tremendous help to his battle with the illness. I just think that what you're doing right now is phenomenal. And my question, during your treatment, are you seeking out opinions from other physicians or are you pretty much just working with one physician?

KING: Do you get second opinions?

MESSNER: I do. I have gotten lots of second opinions, because I know doctors all over the country, and every one of them seem to agree that the two physicians I have right now are doing exactly what needs to be done.

And I am right now working with Dr. Steve Plunkett. He is my radiation man.

KING: In North Carolina?

MESSNER: In North Carolina. And then I am working with Dr. Harvey Taylor. They're both Christians. And I found out that Dr. Plunkett goes to my church, which was really wonderful, and gave me a lot of hope, that you know, that maybe we were both praying that the right thing would happen for me.

KING: You think about death?

MESSNER: Oh, yes. They say it's like crossing over a line. People will say, there's nothing to death. It's like crossing over a line. Well, I wish somebody could prove that to me.

KING: But you believe it though?

MESSNER: I believe it, though.

KING: So, isn't there a conflict going on in you? You're afraid of it. And you believe it.

MESSNER: That's just that old human body scared to die. We all want to live. Like I said, I don't want to be on the next busload please.

We love life. We were born to love life. We were born with that, wanting to live. And death is a mystery to all of us. And sure, I get scared of it. But I know that when the time comes, I won't be scared.

KING: Woody Allen said it best.

MESSNER: What'd he say?

KING: I'm not afraid of death. I just don't want to be there when it happens.

We'll be right back with more. Don't go away.


MESSNER: I woke up one morning, and I had no eye lashes to fasten, any eye lashes to.

Hey, guys, I said I didn't want to be filmed without my eye lashes on. Just a minute. I'll be right out.

I'm sorry, vanity, old vanity the preacher says, all of this vanity, But I've lost all of my eye lashes. I didn't lose my hair. I still have my hair, but it's thinning a lot. My eye lashes are all gone. So if you can see me through these, you can get to see me without eye lashes.



MESSNER: I used to be able to just be able to belt it out and let it go. And I had to just trust that some day, it'll come back. Because I can't imagine me not singing, even though I haven't sung in a year, this is the first time I've taken out my tracks since I found out that I had cancer. It's interesting. Thought I'd do better than that.

KING: Chemotherapy will start August 1st. Denton, Maryland, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: Hi, Larry. Hi, Tammy Faye.


CALLER: I'm so proud of you Tammy. You look fantastic in turquoise. That's my birth stone.

MESSNER: Thank you.

CALLER: I wanted to say I was so proud of you, when everyone was so against you back in the '80s, and I couldn't understand, because I always remember what you said is enough is enough or something like that, that you used to say. And I just thought that God was at work then in your life, that He still is, but also, I called to ask about children, Larry asked about those, so I'll ask about your grandchildren. Do you have grandchildren? How many, what ages?

MESSNER: Yes. Tammy Sue has two, she has James who is 16 and she has Jonathan, who is 14, and they are the love of my life. They are awesome grandchildren.

KING: And what do they think about all of this?

MESSNER: You know they have their youth group, they go to the Baptist church, and their youth group prays for me every time they get together. And it's just so awesome to have grandchildren who are serving the Lord, and say pray for Mama Faye, pray for Mama Faye, and they'll come and visit my house -- their little youth group come and visit the house, we're praying for you, and they'll pray before they leave. And it is really exciting to see the faith that those young people have.

KING: Ocala, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hey, hi, Larry, love your program.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: Just a question for young Tammy there.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: I'm English, very English.

KING: Sounds it.

CALLER: I'm just are interested, that I've noticed that people in religion in the United States tend to wear a lot of makeup, and hair done, and everything, and I don't understand why. Now, in England, if you go into the churches, there's nothing. There's no gold, there's nothing. And there's hardly any people there, but I am English, and I need to know why she wears all this eye makeup, and the hair done. I appreciate it, but why?

KING: Ok. Thank you, doll.

MESSNER: I just do it because I like it. I think any old barn looks better with a little paint on it. I need to come over there and help some of those ladies.

KING: She says in English culture, apparently, those devout Christians don't.

MESSNER: It must just be their culture. But I've never noticed that the English wear a lot of makeup whether there going to church or not.

KING: You were always into makeup. Right.

MESSNER: I've always been into makeup, I've always been into painting the old barn.

KING: Do you think, back to this, Jessica Hahn was here.

MESSNER: Oh, I saw it, for a few minutes, Larry. Then I turned you right off.

KING: But she said on that program, she prays for you. Wishes you the best. You had nothing to do with the mess. She was younger. She idolized you, and wanted to be part of your family.

MESSNER: That is really sweet to know. And I have nothing against Jessica. I forgave Jessica so many years ago, and I pray for -- I have prayed for her. I have prayed for her many, many times, and I believe that God could still use Jessica. She's a -- she's a lovely young woman, and there's no reason in the world why God still could not use her, because she used to know God, maybe she still does have a relationship with God.

KING: You keep on keeping' on don't you?


KING: I mean, that's your philosophy. You just --

MESSNER: Yes. I think everyone should keep on keeping' on.

KING: Have you ever come close to quitting?

MESSNER: No. I always liked that song look on the sunny side, look on the sunny side, look on the sunny side of life.

KING: But how about those days when you're throwing up and the pain is terrible.

MESSNER: That's not fun and the pain is not fun. Well, you just cry out, Jesus, help me!

KING: Because I've had some friends who gave it up. Stopped taking it.

MESSNER: And I understand that.

KING: Do you think maybe you shouldn't have stopped make taking the chemo?

MESSNER: You're probably right, Larry. I don't know if I should have stopped or not. But the Bible does say for we know that all things work together for good for those that love the Lord, and for those that are the cause according to his purpose. And so even if I did make a mistake giving it up, He's still going to work out for my good. And I still had one heck of a good year not taking it.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Tammy Faye Messner. Don't go away.


MESSNER: Tammy, you're not going to believe what hey asked me yesterday. They asked me if I wanted a Valium. And I said no, that's Jim's drug.

TAMMY SUE BAKKER: Mother! Oh, you're bad.

MESSNER: I said no, I don't want Valium. I said I can't take Valium. Works wrong on me. I said just give me one milligram of Adavan. They said have you ever taken Adavan before? Well, I went to Betty Ford for it. We've always known that Mom's a little crazy.

BAKKER: Yes a little.

MESSNER: And everybody kind of knows that so that's okay.




MESSNER: I want my funeral to be a really happy time. I want everyone laughing. I want really fun songs sung. I want people clapping their hands. I don't want nobody crying, I want everybody laughing and remembering how crazy I was. Now I want to be cremated. I'd like to have them put me in maracas, and put your name on it, and then when they're up at church and they're playing the maraca and they're having a good time singing and it's actually you in there with your bones shaking.


KING: You're weird.

MESSNER: I think that's a good idea, and I think a lot of people would like to play maracas.

KING: You want to be cremated, that's not against your religion.


KING: And you want to be put in maracas.

MESSNER: Why not?

KING: Maybe Exavier Cougat could come back and play for you.

MESSNER: He might. That's right, just play!

KING: Any particular song you wanted at the funeral?

MESSNER: Oh, yes, Power in the Blood and all of those good songs, all those old, wonderful songs.

KING: Columbia, South Carolina, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry and Tammy Faye.


CALLER: Hi. This is Deborah, and I wanted to ask you about your cancer, your strength, all the strength that you've had in your life, and how do you think it may relate to your cancer. I have chronic illness and pain, and I know that stress affects me greatly, and I know the Lord helps us in those situations, but I was just wondering, because you've really been through a lot. Have you thought about it?

KING: Good question. Do you think stress has played a part? MESSNER: Oh, definitely. I really think that. They say colon cancer, particularly, is a stress-related cancer, and I think there was a point where, you know, I'm always, try to be so up and try to be so -- and there are times when I think I just need to scream and cry it out. But when it internalizes, I believe it has to come out somewhere. It has to, you know, that stress has to loose itself somewhere, and I think colon cancer is particularly due to stress. I believe that.

KING: You told me you have a paralyzed...

MESSNER: Vocal chord, my left vocal chord...

KING: Is that from the lung cancer?

MESSNER: That's from the cancer on the lung, because what happens, there's a little nerve that goes right down here, and it goes on down here, and my -- the cancer is like right here, and it wraps around the vocal chord, that little chord.

KING: So you can't sing.

MESSNER: And so I can't sing, no.

KING: Ft. Worth, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Praise the Lord, Tammy Faye.

MESSNER: Praise the Lord.

CALLER: We love you. We've prayed for you and Jim, and everything, for years, and I just wondered, what has happened to Heritage USA? And by the way, they've always -- I've been accused of being Tammy Faye II, because I wear the makeup, and the earrings, and the bracelets, and I play the organ.

MESSNER: You go, girl!

KING: Heritage USA, what happened?

CALLER: We'll continue to pray.

MESSNER: Thank you.

KING: Thank you.

MESSNER: Heritage USA has been sold off in portions and parcels, mostly to other religious groups, which is just wonderful. They have got two awesome churches out there. They have redone the upper room, and so it's still going on for the Lord.

KING: Have you been there?

MESSNER: They took my husband, they took Roe clear through it the other day, and Roe says they're doing an awesome job out there. I try not to go back. It still hurts. KING: Sure.

Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Thank you for taking my call.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: Hi, Tammy.

MESSNER: Hi! I love the Canadians.

CALLER: Well, you do. We love you, too.

MESSNER: I do. I was almost born a Canuck.

CALLER: Is that right?

MESSNER: Yes, I was very...

CALLER: I've...

MESSNER: On the border.

CALLER: I've also been going through cancer for the past nine months and been through the chemotherapy. I just came off five weeks of radiation. But what I wanted to ask you was about the radiation, how long were you on it?

MESSNER: For 14 days. I did radiation for 14 days, 14 treatments, and it's like a 45-second treatment. It's really interesting, because it's not like you're laying in there for an hour. It's they zap you for 45 seconds, and then you go away.

KING: Did it help you, ma'am? I'm sorry, we lost the caller.

MESSNER: Oh, I'm sorry...

KING: It sure helped you, though.

MESSNER: It sure helped me. It took that horrible pain away.

KING: We'll be back with more of Tammy Faye, and it's on WE on Monday night, her special. Don't go away.


MESSNER: If I died right now, I would consider myself one of the most fortunate women in the world, to have lived and been able to do the kinds of things that I've been able to do in my life. And I'm very grateful. I'm very grateful to the Lord, for taking a little girl who had nothing to give but was willing to try, and doing what he's done with me. I never dreamed that someday my name would be known everywhere. I -- only God could do that for somebody with no talent. Thanks, God.




MESSNER: Now you'd think that after all I've been through, I'd be tired of doctors. But I'm considering one last gift to myself for going through all that yucky stuff.

How soon after chemotherapy can you have plastic surgery?

MARK SOFONIO, MD: It would depend on the type of surgery you're having. Usually we like to wait at least six months following chemotherapy.

What are your desires? What are your goals?

MESSNER: Well, as least as I -- as can be, just like that there, like here, and then just up on the edges of my eyes, just a little bit, because I'm having a hard time getting my eyelashes on.


KING: Tammy! Are you going to do that if you...

MESSNER: Well, after I heard the price, I decided I guess I'm never going to do it.

KING: If you beat all this, will you do it?

MESSNER: I don't know, Larry. I don't know. If this stuff starts sagging anymore, I definitely will.

KING: Worcester, Massachusetts, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Ms. Messner.


CALLER: Thank you so much for all your joy and your happiness. Now, you have been just dragged through the mud, you've been made fun of more than just about any celebrity that we've ever seen.

MESSNER: I think I...

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: My question is, now don't you dare tell me that it's faith in God. I want to hear what keeps the faith in you. What keeps your faith in yourself so strong?

KING: Yeah, good question.

MESSNER: What keeps the faith in me is really my Bible. I'm sorry, but that's what it does. Because I really believe God's word.

KING: You don't have faith in yourself?

MESSNER: Do I have faith in myself? I, probably -- the older I get, the more faith I have that I can do something, but I've always had a very bad inferiority complex, really bad.

KING: Really?

MESSNER: Somebody can crush me with a word, and they can't do it anymore, because I've learned what I can do, and I know what I can do now, and so I just say, I'm just going to step out and give it a try. I'd rather fail trying than not have tried at all.

KING: Do you have a living will?

MESSNER: I -- well, I sure don't want it, but my husband and my kids both know, I don't want them hooking me up to machines, and I don't want to just be hanging on. That wouldn't be a pretty sight.

KING: No. But they know that and...

MESSNER: They know that, yes.


MESSNER: They know that I don't want any tubes. Just when the Lord comes to take me, then just let me go.

KING: All right, August 1st, that's a week from Monday.


KING: Are you ready for it?

MESSNER: No, you're never ready for it, Larry. But, you know, I've got this stuff, and they're going to put it in this vein.

KING: How often they do it?

MESSNER: They're going to do it just once a month. And then they're giving me those pills in between for -- to block off the cancer.

KING: Will they block the nausea this time?

MESSNER: Yes, they'll block the nausea.

KING: I thought they had pills that blocked that.

MESSNER: They're going to. They are going to block the nausea this time. They did real good on that before; they just weren't able to do it with -- I don't know why it didn't work with this radiation stuff, but they do block the nausea with chemo, yeah, and then I feel better.

KING: Tammy, you're a hell of a lady. You really show us a lot.

MESSNER: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Great knowing you. Hang tough.

MESSNER: I'll hang tough.

KING: I know a lot of the audience, you're in their prayers.

MESSNER: Well, I want to tell people, don't ever give up, because you can make it. I know.

KING: The documentary about Tammy Faye's fight with cancer, titled "Tammy Faye: Death Defying," debuts on WE, the Women's Entertainment Channel -- that's the WE Network -- on Monday, July 25th.


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