A young Jacksonville woman used her love of baking to get through her brain cancer diagnosis and now the thing she used as a distraction has turned into a sweet and savory new business.
After Rebecca “Becca” Ray was diagnosed with cancer she found her sanctuary in the kitchen.
“I didn’t have much strength to do much of anything, so getting a little fun now and again was a good thing,” said Ray. “I really enjoy baking, and my mom is by my side anytime I need any help.”
Ray is now the CEO of her own company, Becca Bakes Cakes. The entrepreneur has been stirring up success with the company for more than a year now. The business has become wildly popular and has quickly developed a fan base with some of Jacksonville’s most recognizable faces.
“We had a Jaguars event and Gus Bradley was there and a couple of the first pics of the Jaguars were there, so we gave them a cupcake and they loved them and we were able to get pictures with them,” Ray said.
Ray’s cake-baking began during her time at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, where the teen said she became inspired.
“One night, when I was getting chemo because I was diagnosed with brain cancer, my mom and I were looking for something on TV and we found 'Cupcake Wars' on TV and we started watching it -- a marathon of it. We thought, 'We can bake, why not do this?'” said Ray.
After 15 weeks of chemotherapy, numerous rounds of proton therapy and surgeries, Ray perfected her recipes and the skills she would need to become a cupcake connoisseur.
“This just gave her an outlet and it was good therapy for her because you have some of the side effects," said Becca’s mom, Sondra Ray. "You know, anytime she could do anything that would challenge her fine motor skills was a benefit for her and we had fun sitting there playing. This is not just a cupcake business. This is just part of her extended family and that’s the way she views things.”
Becca Ray is a sophomore at St. John's Community College and plans to transfer to University of North Florida and pursue a degree in social work. She said some day, she’d like to work in pediatric oncology to help other cancer patients.
Becca Ray is in remission and still has regular checkups and scans every six months to make sure her cancer is in check.