by Mike Lee
Ray Bauer has been blessed in life. Of that, he has no doubt. A marriage of 50 years to the love of his life. A successful banking career. Children and grandchildren beyond what he could hope for. Cancer.
At 71, Bauer is determined to chalk up even a cancer diagnosis as a blessing.
Thanks to a successful round of treatment at Oklahoma City’s ProCure Proton Therapy Center, Bauer’s back on the road to recovery. But as he traveled that road he got a first-hand look at all the potholes along the way.
“While I was there I got a look at some young people that had far more severe problems than I did, plus they hadn’t had a full life like I had,” he said. “I was sitting there watching parents in the waiting room with a little car seat empty beside them waiting for their child to go through treatment. I just go to thinking ‘Man, this is awful. Is there anything we can do to help them.’”
Bauer remembered back to the same stage in his life and remembering after paying bills nothing was left. He couldn’t imagine having to pack up for an extended stay hundreds of miles from home with a family.
He thought maybe paying some of the non-medical expenses could be a blessing to families already stretched thin.
“These people come in from out of town and they have to stay here. They have to rent an apartment or a house and it’s an added expense ... one they really don’t need at that time in their life,” he said.
So it became Bauer’s mission to raise money.
A $30,000 goal was set and Bauer says nearly half that amount has been collected.
Initially, Bauer went to the cancer patients themselves. Once patients graduate from treatment at ProCure they go through a graduation ceremony.
At his ceremony, Bauer grabbed the microphone and everyone’s attention.
“Instead of thanking the world for what’s happened, I took my time to ask these people for a little money,” Bauer said. “My approach was for some of us, especially those on Medicare, the treatment didn’t cost us a dime. I said if anyone thinks their treatment was worth $11.37 a treatment then I’d like for you to consider writing me a check for $500. That day I got $5,000.”
ProCure helped out by sending out an informational letter to former and current patients.
“I know myself I’m tired of giving money to charities you think it’s going to benefit somebody and you find out 90 percent is going to some solicitor,” Bauer said. “I think a lot of people if they knew where it was going they would be more than happy to donate some money.”
Bauer celebrates a 50th wedding anniversary with wife Barbara later this year. That union has resulted in five daughters and seven granchildren.
Bauer moved to Oklahoma City in 1983 for business but stayed for more.
“I’ve almost been accepted,” Bauer says with a laugh. “I can’t say you all are quite good enough yet but you’re working on it.
“We really enjoy the area and people are extremely friendly.”
Bauer’s arrival in Oklahoma City coincided with the failure of Penn Square Bank. He helped liquidate the bank after it failed and eventually would work for a couple of banks as president.
In 1989, he set out on his own doing contract loan review for banks and also buys and sells loan participations. Now at age 71, he’s living the good life.
“If the sun is shining and it’s after noon I’ll be playing golf. I won’t be working,” he said.
Right now he’s content to work for those who will follow him.
“It’s a good feeling,” Bauer says of raising the funds. “I tell you, you really have to see them sitting there to see what they’re going through.”
In addition to raising funds, Bauer is also putting together a volunteer group to pair with patients and families for the duration of their stay in Oklahoma City.
Volunteers will be available to help people out with sightseeing or finding a church or other needs.
“Basically, it’s just to be a help for whatever they might need. It might be they want someone to sit with them during treatments,” Bauer said.
Bauer is the center’s 95th graduate.
Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation treatment for many types of cancer that causes significantly less damage to healthy tissue and vital organs resulting in fewer short- and long-term side effects for patients.
The therapy involves multiple treatments over the course of several weeks, requiring that many patients and their loved ones endure costly, multi-week stays away from their homes. The aggregate expense of daily meals, airfare and hotel accommodations can be extremely taxing on a family’s financial resources.
Bauer is encouraging Oklahomans to give a tax-deductible contribution of any amount to assist these families, many of whom travel from miles away to seek treatment and are forced to live in an unfamiliar community and new surroundings.
Donations can be made to the ProCure Cancer Foundation, which helps proton therapy patients and their families in need of financial assistance with the nonmedical costs associated with the treatment, such as housing, food and transportation.
The ProCure Cancer Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization that provides support to proton radiation therapy patients in need of financial assistance by funding non-medical expenses associated with the treatment — such as housing, food and transportation — to ensure that eligible patients have access to the improved quality of life proton therapy enables.
For more information or to make a donation to the foundation, please visit www.procurecancerfoundation.org.
“The Good Lord has been good to me, I’m just trying to pass it on to someone else,” Bauer said.
Oklahoma City businessman Ray Bauer is trying to help families of cancer patients. ProCure Proton Therapy Center Patient Services Manager Nycke White says Bauer’s efforts can really help patients faced with mounting expenses.