The UPPC Story Project: Jack Baker

Every cancer journey is unique. Jack Baker’s experiences continue to teach him about surrendering his life to God.

Jack was born and raised in Burlingame, a town on the San Francisco peninsula, in a Christian family. Throughout his life, Jack has been especially influenced by his father’s strong faith.
“When he was faced with something and just didn’t know what to do, he would turn it over to the Lord in prayer. And, the Lord would never let him down,” Jack said.

Jack and the “love of his life” Marcia have been married for more than 51 years and have two children. The family lived in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland before settling down in the Tacoma area where they have been for the past 38 years.

Jack’s worked in the trust department at a bank, helping manage people’s estates and money.
When he was transferred from Beaverton, Ore., to University Place, the family left a beloved church so they began to look right away for a new church home. Eventually, they found University Place Presbyterian Church, started attending and haven’t stopped since. Over the years, Jack has been on Session at UPPC and helped with various projects on the campus with a group of other retired men.

In November 2013, Jack was diagnosed with lung cancer. Surgery and chemotherapy soon followed.

“About two weeks after my original diagnosis, I remembered how my dad would turn to the Lord during hard things. So, I dropped to my knees and prayed. As I recall, I acknowledged to God that He made me and that He could take me at any time, but that I truly wanted to live and grow old with Marcia, the love of my life,” Jack said.

Diagnosed just before his 68th birthday, he had serious doubts that he would see his 69th birthday. But, God answered his prayers as well as those of his friends and family, making his birthday a particularly joyful celebration.

But, three years after his original diagnosis, doctors discovered the cancer had returned, this time in his chest and brain. With the help of a targeted drug, the tumors shrank. In the summer of 2017, Jack underwent proton radiation therapy on his chest for tumors that had reappeared. In June 2018, it was discovered that one of the lesions in his brain had developed fluid around it, so he underwent CyberKnife radiosurgery.

“During my journey, I’ve discovered how much I want to live and have found the courage and determination to make it so. Conveying this determination to my Seattle Cancer Care Alliance oncologist and stating that I’d do anything to live convinced her to treat my recurrence to the brain aggressively. The side effects are a small price to pay for living,” Jack said.

Early on in Jack’s experience, one of his good friends mentioned that he admired Jack for not feeling like God had abandoned him in this experience, but instead grew in his faith.
“Over the years when I have taken jobs in different places or when I quit and took a new job, God opened a door for me and all I had to do was be smart enough and go through. And that is what I feel, that He has provided opportunities,” Jack said.

Jack is thankful for his wife’s supportive role as best friend and caregiver through this whole process. But, no one can truly understand his experience as God does.

“No one can make this journey for us, but you can have God walk besides, comfort and guide you,” Jack said.

Jack continues to fight the disease, going through the cycle of addressing flair ups to keep it contained. But, he is thankful to be alive at 74 years old.

“I am grateful for every moment of my life. Every minute has gone into making me who I am today -- good, bad, or ugly. I would be afraid that if given the chance to change something, my life somehow could be different, and I like who I am and where I am. This applies to cancer also. But, I am not sure I would feel the same way if I did not have hope. Every day I thank God for my life, warts and all. It has all gone into making me who I am today… imperfect but a good person,” Jack said.

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