Jake and Penny Bayne just celebrated thirty-two years of marriage in February. Jake was an Air Force brat and lived all over the U.S. and Germany.
His family finally settled in Orlando in 1957. Penny's parents relocated to Orlando from New York in 1956. The couple met at Central Christian Church in 1982, and were married a year later.
Like any married couple, they have had their fair triumphs and hardships alike. None have been so difficult on the family than the health news they learned about Jake earlier this year.
Jake has melanoma, a skin cancer that effects only about 160,000 people worldwide. But it is also a more dangerous cancer that causes about 75% of the skin cancer deaths - if not caught in the early stages.
Jake had been having problems for several months towards the end of last year. He had pains throughout his body and and an overall weakness that could not be explained. After a full battery of tests including a bone marrow biopsy at Florida Hospital, Jake was diagnosed with the cancer on January 7 of this year.
The Baynes are very active members of their church and they rely heavily on the their faith to help overcome and beat this disease.
“I remember when Jake was first diagnosed and in the hospital,” Penny explained. “Jake was so sick and weak, and they didn't seem to have any answers for us. I was weeping all the time, and the only thing that would dry my tears was praising Jesus.”
“Five years ago we lost my brother-in-law from the same type of cancer,” Penny said. “What are the odds that 2 sisters would marry men who would ultimately suffer from the same disease?”
While their faith was strong, the initial shock of the news was difficult. Penny was physically sick almost every day during the first week. She was unable to eat but soon realized that she needed be strong for Jake to be able to properly care for him.
“I started praying that God would help us, that He would lead us out of this darkness,” Penny said. “We really needed help and we needed it soon.”
Penny admitted that their “journey” has been very difficult. “But God has been so real and steadfast throughout every moment of every hour,” she shared. “When things were at their darkest, before we knew that Jake would respond to the treatments, the only comfort I found was in praising God's Holy Name.”
Jake said he praises God for bringing him this far. He keeps focused on being able to do, once again, the things he used to do. The couple is eager to return to their ministry singing the First Baptist Orlando choir where the couple has many friends who have prayed for them since learning of the health issues. They also participate in the Singing Christmas Tree program at the church every year.
Simple pleasures seem to take on a new, refreshing meaning. Jake considers himself a “car guy” and said he is anxious to get back to his Dodge Dakota. “That truck has been neglected these past few months. I really miss driving, and look forward to getting behind the wheel again.,” Jake admitted.
He also wants to get back to his hobby room where he builds static aircraft models and looks forward to the time when they can both just relax in front of the TV and take in a baseball game.
But one of the most important things he wants to do is to be able to help Penny around the house. Jake is frustrated that he cannot do more to help, especially since Penny has a bad back. Still, they continue to work together, remaining focused on a cancer-free existence. “We enjoy our life together even though it a little harder now,” Jake said. “But it'll get better, I have faith that it will!”
“I have told Jake all along that God is not done with us yet,” Penny explained. “There is a purpose in all of this, we just don't know what it is. Maybe it's to encourage others who are going through the same experiences. Heaven knows, we all need to help one another, especially through an illness like cancer.”