Cancer MinistriesPeople helping people understand and work on beating cancer...
In the last several years, we at Pleasant Lake United Methodist Church (PLUM) have noticed that there has been an increase in prayer request for those who have cancer and other illnesses which could end in death or chronic conditions which brings impairments. Many families and individuals often have little hope, loss of joy, and lack of understanding of what is next for them or their loved ones.
Two people in our congregation, Chuck and Toni Bair, are two who know first hand what struggles there are when someone you love faces cancer. They both know this personally because both of them have experienced cancer a number of times! We praise God that both are doing well and Toni is receiving the care she needs with her latest bout with cancer and the side effects from treatment.
Both Chuck and Toni feel God is calling them to share their stories and to offer help and hope for others going through this horrific disease and others which try to remove all hope of having a “normal” life. It is for this reason that both wish to create this special ministry in our church.
Although it is called Cancer Ministry, it is open to all who suffer from an illness which threatens life or the quality of life. Chuck and Toni want to share their stories, their experiences, their hopes and strengths with those facing such illnesses. In their personal journeys, both have met others who have lost hope, who are alone, who are wishing someone could understand what they are going through. Many don’t understand what resources are available to them and the support that awaits them from families and church families. Some families feel helpless when their loved ones face these trials and long to help out in some manner. Chuck and Toni can help in this. Here is part of their story:
“Hello, my name is Chuck Bair and my wife Toni and I would like to share with you our story from the past twenty four years. Toni and I have survived eight bouts of cancer, four for each of us; we don’t like to outdo each other. Our journey started in the summer of 1990 when Toni was diagnosed with melanoma cancer on her leg. We made it through that scare after several tests and surgeries to remove all of the cancer infected tissue. I think being in our late thirties, very active, healthy young people kind of took away from the seriousness of what we had just been through. Little did we know what the future had in store for Toni and I.
The next several years would prove to be a major stress on our relationship, which at the time, we were dating for about ten years up to that point. At that point in our lives I think Toni’s faith was a lot stronger than mine. As a matter of fact, my relationship with GOD was one of getting into trouble and then trying to make deals with the Lord to get out of them. The next chapter in our story we refer to as our lost forties, because in the next ten years; between forty and fifty, Toni and I would be stricken with cancer five times.
When I turned forty, I decided to go in for a physical; having never had any major health issues in my life. Little did I know that this physical would open up the flood gates that would take Toni and my relationship and our faith to the ultimate test.
In October of 1994 I was diagnosed with colon cancer at age forty and I was in great shape, so I thought. Still being in a very strong and close loving relationship with each other Toni and I excepted to take the news in stride and as we talked about beating cancer once before, we decided we were going to beat it again in the same way as before: ONE DAY AT A TIME. Little did we know at the time that it is a very popular saying in AA, but at that time it was our way of getting the best of this unwanted beast. Hold on to your seat folks; it’s only beginning. I not trying to make lite of the situation but sometimes you have to laugh before you can cry and cry we did.
In 1996, I was diagnosed with liver cancer and was referred to I.U. Medical Center in Indianapolis where we met with an outstanding surgeon, Dr. Louis Jacobson. I think that was when my faith with GOD really started to fill me up. I started to question what I had done that was so bad to be stricken once again with cancer. In our neighborhood, a good friend of mine and member of the local church gave me the number of his pastor and after an hour or so on the phone Ron convinced me that GOD was a GOD of love.
Over the next three to six months I had a 75% liver resection and recovery with the best nurse I could have ever hired; that was Toni. You remember Toni; she was my girlfriend for over ten years who was the greatest inspiration I could have ever had. I am going to speed this along because Toni always reminds me I really love to talk. In Dec of 1998 I was diagnosed with lung cancer and if that wasn’t enough Toni was diagnosed with stage four throat cancer in Jan 1999.
Not expected to live for more than a year, the doctors decided to bombard Toni with 25 to 30 days straight with twice a day massive doses of radiation and 4 treatments of 96 hours of constant chemo therapy administered in the hospital. You know what, with everything that Toni was going through, she still took care of me with having gone through a lung resection a few weeks prior. That was why during her last chemo treatment I knew that for however long Toni would be alive we would have to be husband and wife. We were married in June of 1999.
After our marriage, Toni had to have a trachea breathing tube place in her throat after her blood vessels started to deteriorate in her throat due to her radiation treatments to the point that she woke me up at 1:30 in the morning in Oct of 1999. She was choking to death on her own blood and if not for our neighbor Liz, Toni would have died. After that, Toni had HBO treatments for healing from the radiation treatments that burned her chest like a fire. Toni also had to have cataracts removed from both eyes in May and June of 2000 due to, once again the radiation.
Oh, wait a minute back to me for the moment. In Dec of 2000, I was diagnosed with lung cancer for the second time in two years and also around Christmas once more. I will give you one choice of who was there to take care of me. Are you seeing a pattern folks? That, not just surviving this horrible disease, also has to do with your surviving: relationships with God and your family and love ones.
Since our missing forties, Toni has had squamous cell skin cancer in 2006 and 20013. The biggest and most recent life changer for us however happened on Nov 1, 2012 when Toni had to have a complete laryngectomy with a reconstruction on Nov 15, 2012. For those of you who are not familiar with this surgery, it is the complete removal your voice box and esophagus, leaving one to learn how to breath, eat, and swallow again. One again, due to radiation, it strikes again.
We currently go back and forth to the University of Michigan Hospital frequently now for follow up visits and we feel like God made sure we ended up there to put Toni in the hands of the greatest staff we could have only dreamed of. We love each other and once again feel like the hand of GOD sent us to Pleasant Lake United Methodist Church (PLUM) not only to be bless us with the friends that we have met there, but also to extend our help to those who have not been able to beat the beast, ONE DAY AT A TIME. Please join us and add to our cancer ministry with your journey and story of the beast (cancer) or your request for help and support from your brothers and survivors. Through GOD and family we will survive. The inspiration for this ministry is truly dedicated God; but also to Toni, my loving wife and true friend who has shown me how to be there for the ones you love.
We are here for you. We know what you are going through and can help support you with love, guidance, and in other ways. We never claim to have all the answers; however, we can walk with you in your journey. We want to talk about cancer and other illnesses that try to rob us of the joy God has for each of us. We want to bring encouragement and support to you and your family. We want to be there for your families: to show them how to love and support you in your recovery, or, in the preparation for your journey to be with our Lord Jesus Christ by making the last days this side of heaven as blessed as possible. But in order to do this, we need you!
We understand that what you are going through is hard. There are struggles with faith, relationships, anger, loneliness, depression, hopelessness, and a host of other things you may/may not have considered. We want to share stories of hope, of courage, of inspiration, and of steadfastness. We want to inspire others to find hope and peace, the will to live life to the fullest, to prepare you and your family with peace in the last days. We don’t promise healing from the cancer or what other illness you face; but we can promise you will not be alone. May GOD bless this ministry, and even more importantly, you.
Please send us your testimonial of how Chuck and Toni have helped you and we will put it here!
We at PLUM church want to be there for you. Please feel free to contact us to see how we can walk by your side, support your family, and to share your stories. You might become the inspiration for someone who is about to face the same trials and struggles you have already come through. You might have experienced aspects that even Chuck and Toni can learn from! The whole purpose is to come together and share, discuss, pray, cry, laugh, and be there for and with one another.
If you would like to know more about this ministry, please feel free to contact the church at 260-475-1722, or e-mail Chuck and Toni Bair at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com