Tammy Faye Messner's Cancer Returns

Tammy Faye Messner's Cancer Returns
Tammy Faye Messner
Derek Storm/FilmMagic

updated 07/21/2005 at 01:00 PM EDT

originally published 07/21/2005 01:00PM

Tammy Faye Messner, the ex-wife of disgraced TV evangelist Jim Bakker, tells PEOPLE that the lung cancer she's battled before has returned.

The former Surreal Life star, 63, is scheduled to undergo chemotherapy August 1 to treat an inoperable tumor in her lung.

"I'm not worried, I'm not afraid," Messner tells the Associated Press. "By the third time you have cancer, you begin to think about your mortality."

About a month ago, Messner completed 14 radiation treatments for cancer, which is part of a new documentary, Tammy Faye: Death Defying, due July 25 on WE.

Messner told PEOPLE she's using humor to cope: "During radiation, I did not lose my hair, but I lost my eyelashes. Which is the funniest thing in the world to me, because it's my trademark."

She says her documentary is her way of helping others going through the same problems. "I wanted to help people," she said. "I felt with cancer and AIDS and these debilitating diseases, we could maybe show the inside (of the experience) and make it a little less frightening."

Despite her ailment, Messner is planning to continue traveling the country to give inspirational talks, AP reports.

"I thank God, I'm truly one of the lucky ones," says the former Tammy Faye Bakker, who divorced Jim Bakker in 1992 while he was serving a sentence for financial fraud. "There's always people that are worse off than you are, and that's what I look at to give me strength."

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