Bouie hopes people see his ‘consistent faith’ in fight against cancer
Tony Bouie has cancer. Exactly what kind he will find out Wednesday. But it’s bad. It’s in his liver, elbow, neck, hip . . . the damn disease is all over his skeletal system.
Time is beginning to be measured in months.
Bouie, at 35 years old, married with two young daughters, the chairman and CEO of a burgeoning company, a former All-American football player at the University of Arizona, was just about on top of the world a month ago.
Undrafted, Bouie persisted and made the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1995. He played 57 games, mostly as a backup, for four seasons. He earned a master’s degree from UA while playing in the NFL. Later, he earned a master’s in business administration from Arizona State.
He founded Halo Cups in 2004 – note the religious reference in the name – which produces drink cups with an attached lid. UA concessions is one of the company’s clients.
“He really is the ultimate role model,” said former UA offensive lineman Warner Smith. “He was definitely the kind of kid you would want your own kid to take after.”
One investor in his company is ex-teammate Heath Bray, a financial adviser in the Phoenix area. Bouie took Bray’s starting free safety spot in 2001.
“He made a presentation to me, and I went 100 percent on his credibility, which is totally different than what I would do professionally,” Bray said. “. . . I wasn’t doing him a favor. It was something where if he was involved in it, I knew it was good.”
Bouie has extra incentive to want his company to do well.
“I’m not beating people over the head with the Bible, but my ultimate goal is to fund ministries and to help people who are going out to spread the word of God, here in the states or overseas,” Bouie said. “It’s what I feel I was called to do.”
Cancer hasn’t changed that. But it gave him another calling.
Bouie wants his story told. Here he is, 35, a former pro athlete, who had nary a health care in the world when he went for his physical exam. Motivating people to get to the doctor, even in the supposed best of times, is one thing he can do.
His wife, Allison, is maintaining a Web page that details Bouie’s progress for family and friends. He invites anyone to share those experiences.
Go to http://www.carepages.com, sign up, sign in and enter “TonyBouie” when asked to enter a CarePage name. Former Cats, across multiple sports, have already left messages for him there. Details of any fund-raising events will be posted.
“Whatever the outcome is, good or bad, whether I survive a long time or whether I don’t, I hope people see my consistent faith through all of this,” he said.
Bouie also recently became a blogger, showing his sense of humor by creating a Web site by the name of http://www.godmademelaugh.com. From there you can find links to videos he has posted to YouTube, giving a firsthand account of the beginning of the fight for his life.
Some are difficult to watch. On Jan. 9, talking about the aches and pains, he said, “it seems like daily it gets a little worse.”
Some old teammates, including linebacker Brant Boyer, defensive lineman Rob Waldrop and offensive lineman Joe Smigiel, had hoped to take Bouie to Utah in a couple of weeks.
Rent a cabin, play in the snow, talk about all that was good. Bouie would have liked that.
Plans have been canceled with the uncertainty of treatment.
Bouie said he is finding comfort these days in a particular Bible passage – Philippians 4:6-7.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Said Bray: “I don’t share his religious convictions, but I will tell you, from being around him, you can’t help but rethink the little things that you do. That’s probably the most powerful thing I can say about being exposed to his faith.
“Tony’s message is, it’s not only about you. It’s about how you contribute and how you position yourself on this planet.” His ex-teammates have heard. They have huddled around Bouie. Caring, sharing, praying, helping in any way.
“One of the things that was a real plus for him as a player was that he was not short on confidence. I mean, just ask him,” Akina said. “He had such a sense of mental toughness about him, too. That’s one of the reasons Tony has won so many things in his life. He’s a winner.”
Akina speaks for everyone when, in a hopeful voice, he says:
“If anyone has a chance to win this battle, it’s him.”