Peter Baklinski

‘Walking through fire’: A mother’s desperate fight against breast cancer, and for her unborn baby

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski
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MEQUON, Wisconsin, June 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – “Pam, I have some bad news…,” the breast-care coordinator from the hospital said hesitatingly over the phone. “It turns out that your tumor is… well it’s malignant… I’m sorry.”

Pamela Goris, 28, felt a wave of devastation wash over her as she put down the phone. The mother of two young children quietly cried and prayed, closely cradling her nine-month-old Joseph in her arms, as haunting thoughts of her children growing up motherless paraded grimly before her.

“I’m not going to be here to see this little baby go to Kindergarten,” she thought as tears streamed down her face. How would her impetuous eight-year-old son Adam survive without her guidance, she wondered. How would her husband Tom take the news?

What made these thoughts seem even darker for the young mother was the dismal realization that the newest member of the Goris family, whose existence had just been confirmed by a pregnancy test the day before, was probably never going to see the light of day. Pam and her husband Tom had eagerly welcomed the tidings of a new member coming into their blossoming family. But now yesterday’s perfect joy seemed to Pam to be suddenly eclipsed by the dreadful prognosis.

“If you want to save your life…have an abortion”

It was October 1996 when the happily married mom first became concerned about her health after discovering a lump in one of her breasts. A mammogram indicated nothing amiss, but the results of a biopsy revealed that a virulent cancer was attacking her body.

A few days after the call, a surgeon at the hospital told Pam and her husband that if they wanted to keep their two-week-old pregnancy, then lumpectomy — which would remove the tumor — was not an option since the procedure would be followed by the necessary radiation treatment, which could cause serious damage to the developing baby. In the best interests of the baby, mastectomy was the only viable option, the doctor said.

Pam agreed to the full removal of her breast because she wanted to do all she could to keep her unborn baby safe. After waking weak and dazed from the operation, Pam was immediately told by her oncologist that the cancer had spread further than expected, infecting her lymph nodes. She was told that she must be prepared to make decisions that would be in her best interest.

“I have to tell you that as your oncologist, you are my patient and my goal is to save your life,” Pam remembers her oncologist saying. “If we want to save your life, the best thing for you to do would be to have an abortion.”

The oncologist explained how Pam’s hormones from the pregnancy were actually encouraging the growth of the cancer cells in her body. Pam was told that she needed to start chemotherapy right away and that she might as well terminate the pregnancy since the fetus would not be able to cope with the severity of the treatment. She was told that common side effects of the treatment included fetal malformation and even spontaneous abortion.

While Pam was devastated by the advice, she nonetheless told her doctor that she “didn’t believe in abortion” and wanted to do all she could to “keep my baby safe.”

“End your pregnancy and focus on saving your life,” she remembers the doctors repeatedly telling her. The exact same advice was given when Pam sought a second opinion from a renowned doctor at a different hospital.

To walk through the fire

At this point, Pam’s husband Tom began to be swayed by the unanimous advice of the doctors. “I just want you to be alive with me, to be with me, and to take care of our children,” Pam remembers Tom pleading with her. “I don’t want you to die. We can have more babies later,” he said.

Pam began to second-guess her original decision. As a happily married woman she never thought that she would be in a position where she would have to face the question of abortion. “To have to make that decision when you are happily married and thinking that ‘life is great’ was a big shock and a surprise,” she remembers.

“To have a doctor tell you that ‘you need to do this to save your life’ really sways you and it sways your family members.”

Pam recalled how her husband’s parents were pushing for her to act on the advice of the doctors while her own parents where in favor of finding a solution that would respect both her life and the life of her unborn baby.

“It was a difficult situation to be in,” she said, “but at the end of the day I knew that ultimately I would be the one who had to live with the decision that was made.”

To bring a different perspective into the situation, Pam’s parents urged a dear friend of the family, a Catholic priest, to visit the distressed mother.

Fr. John Cerkas approached Pam with a simple question: “Pamela, if your house was on fire and your children Joseph and Adam were trapped inside, would you walk through the fire to save them?”

“Of course,” she replied instantly, “you wouldn’t be able to keep me out of that fire. I would be in there in a heartbeat.”

“You need to walk through the fire for this baby in your womb,” the priest suggested softly.

Like a lightning flash splitting the darkened night, the priest’s words pierced Pam’s heart. She suddenly realized that the baby that she was carrying in her womb was really no different than any of her other children that were already born.

“Why are we even talking about abortion,” she exclaimed. “I would do anything to save any of my kids.” 

Bald, pregnant and one-breasted

The courageous mother made a firm decision to do whatever she could to save her own life while at the same time doing everything possible to keep her baby safe. “No more talk about abortion,” she remembers telling her husband. “We are going to trust, hope, and pray. And whatever happens, happens.”

The next few months were difficult. Pam and her husband were put in contact with a doctor from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas who had successfully treated a number of pregnant mothers with chemotherapy. This doctor told the parents that as long as the treatment commenced after 13 weeks of pregnancy, then the baby would have a “good chance” of survival. He also told them about special chemotherapy drugs that would be much safer for the baby and just as effective in fighting the cancer.

In January 1996, Pamela began the six rounds of chemotherapy that would be administered to her every three weeks. After the first round, Pam lost all her hair.

“I was bald, pregnant, and one breasted,” she recalled. “Not the greatest thing in the world.” Tom, who had gained a new-found respect for Pam and the life she carried within her, often joked that his wife was “the best bald, pregnant, one-breasted woman” that he had ever seen.

“We tried to keep our sense of humor,” Pam remembers. “And we prayed a lot.”

At the fifth round of chemotherapy, 13 weeks before the baby was due, Pam’s waters unexpectedly broke. She was kept on bed rest for two weeks, but when the doctors feared that an infection was setting in, they induced labor.

On April 23, Thomas was born weighing a mere three pounds. Pam briefly cuddled her little boy for whom she had walked through the fire before he was whisked away to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

A miracle

But not all was well with tiny Thomas. He had developed a grade four bleed on his brain, which is the worst kind. Not only can brain bleeds cause permanent brain damage, but they are fatal in many cases. Doctors asked Pam if she wanted to let her son go.

“There’s no way we’ve come this far just to let him die,” she remembers responding passionately to them. “We’re going to do everything we can to save him. I’m not giving up on Thomas.”

Baby Thomas remained in the ICU, hooked up to numerous medical life lines. His doctors decided to postpone a brain shunt surgery until it would be absolutely necessarily to save his life. Pam remembers how doctors were constantly surprised that the little boy managed to somehow keep holding death at bay.

Exactly seven days after Thomas’ birth, something medically inexplicable happened. Doctors, who were examining the boy’s brain by ultrasound, were astounded to discover that the bleed had vanished.

“I don’t know how to explain this,” Pam remembers the doctor telling her, “but the bleed is gone, it’s completely gone. Thomas’ brain looks completely normal and healthy.”

Pam believes that she knows what really happened. “Truly, we do believe it was a miracle of prayer. So many people had been lifting me and Thomas up in prayer.”

All’s well that ends well

Pam, now 44, says that her 16-year-old son Thomas is a “perfectly fine strapping young man” who plays football, runs track, and does well at school. He has no health problems and is “perfectly normal,” she says.

“He’s my angel, the one who always wants everyone else to be happy and who is always giving his share to someone else.” Both Pam and her husband, who now have six children, cannot even begin to imagine life without Thomas.

“Had I listened to the advice of the top doctors at two different hospitals, he wouldn’t be here now.”

Pam believes that Thomas is alive and well because God honored her decision to walk through the fire for her boy.

“I really do think his life is a miracle, and when you place your complete trust in God, miracles happen, wonderful things happen. We just have to trust in God,” she said.

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Editor’s note: LifeSiteNews reporter Peter Baklinski extends thanks to Pro-Life Wisconsin for putting LifeSiteNews in contact with Pamela Goris and for posting her testimony on Youtube. Information for “Walking though fire: The story of a mother’s courageous love for her child” was drawn from Goris’ Youtube testimony as well as from an interview with Goris by LifeSiteNews.


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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