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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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Growing ‘Women Against Feminism’ movement draws fury

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By Hilary White
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Critics of feminism have long said that it is entering the final stages of its long career, with more of its assertions about the nature of human sexual and social relations being contradicted by the evidence and fewer young people following its dictates every decade. But in the last few weeks, it seems that feminism’s last gasp is being used to direct insults at young women who are lining up to publicly reject and ridicule it.

The Tumblr site Women Against Feminism has started a social networking trend in which thousands of young women photograph themselves holding signs bluntly denouncing feminism, giving a sharp indication that the feminist brand has become poison to young, hip, and internet-savvy women.

Mainstream and journalistic feminists have lashed out at the site and its followers, entering into an online spat over the increasingly popular photos. The signs say, “I am not a victim,” and “This is what an anti-feminist looks like.”

They continue: “I am an adult who is capable of taking responsibility for myself and my actions. I define myself and derive my value by my own standards. I don’t need to be ‘empowered’. I am not a target for violence and there is no war against me. I respect me and I refuse to demonize them and blame them for my problems.”

The messages held by the women pinpoint with pithy and acerbic precision exactly the reasons given by many critics that the movement has lost favour with young people. They call it a creed of double standards that promotes victimhood and endorses bullying of anyone who critiques it.

The site’s explanatory page, which was taken down for unknown reasons in the last two days, said, “Feminists are the only people who lose their minds with rage when you tell them that women already have the same exact rights as men. That’s not good enough. They want more. They desperately want to be victims. They want a privileged social position.”

The author goes on to accuse feminism in general of systematic censorship, discrimination, elitism and “policing other women” who do not toe the line – as well as baseline misandry. The anonymous creator denounced feminism’s adoption of “abortion as ‘empowerment’”:

This opinion is unpopular, but I don’t agree that I need to have my baby scraped out of my uterus in order to feel empowered. But the abortion industry (i.e. Planned Parenthood) makes a ton of money off this perversion of empowerment. ‘Abortion as empowerment’ teaches women to see their wombs as nothing but garbage bins full of disposable waste.

One of the contributors wrote, “I don’t need feminism because my self-worth is not directly tied to my victim complex. As a woman in the western world I am not oppressed, and neither are you,” says one. Another: “I don’t need feminism because I don’t need to bully someone to share my opinions with others.”

Some come right out and say that feminism promotes exactly the evils it purports to fight against: “I don’t need feminism because I believe in equality, not entitlements and supremacy.”

Although the site and its contentious photos have been running around the internet for many months, arguments among journalism’s feminists started breaking out this week after a mocking Buzzfeed feature helped the site gain momentum on social media outlets.

Some feminist journalists simply flung insults. Lillian Kalish sniffed on Ryot, “These Women Who Think They Don’t Need Feminism Don’t Know What Feminism Is.” “Did these posters ever think to look up the actual definition of feminism?”

Nuala McKeever, in the Belfast Telegraph, called the women posting the photos “silly, ignorant, vacuous wee girls with absolutely no thoughts beyond their own self-absorbed inanities.”

Time Magazine’s Sarah Miller said, “I Really, Truly, Fully Hate ‘Women Against Feminism’—But…” Miller wrote, “[T]he tendency to see sexism everywhere is proof that feminism is healthy and vigilant, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, because misogyny is insidious and rampant… We need feminism.”

But Miller added, “Still, the pain that we experience as women—even physical—does not give us the right to tell people there’s one way to think or feel, or to assume that we have some god-like understanding of everyone’s motivations.”

Cathy Young, however, responded in Time, saying, “Stop Fem-Splaining: What ‘Women Against Feminism’ Gets Right.” She writes, “The charge that feminism stereotypes men as predators while reducing women to helpless victims certainly doesn’t apply to all feminists—but it’s a reasonably fair description of a large, influential, highly visible segment of modern feminism.”

The site, Young says, “raises valid questions about the state of Western feminism in the 21st Century — questions that must be addressed if we are to continue making progress toward real gender equality.”

Sarah Boesveld wrote in the National Post on Friday that the site shows that feminism has become “complicated” and “sometimes alienating.” She quotes an email sent to the paper by 22 year-old Australian Lisa Sandford, who “believes in equality for the sexes” but firmly rejects feminism as “rude and nasty” and intends to be a stay-at-home mother. 

Sandford wrote, “If feminism really accepted equality, they would not tell me my views are wrong, they would accept it and let me be.”

Browse the 'Women Against Feminism' archives here (warning: occasional strong language).


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Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse

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Welcome Baby Filipino 100 Million!

Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse
By Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse

Population Research Institute welcomes the birth of little Chonalyn Sentino. Baby Chonalyn was born this past Sunday to parents Clemente and Dailin, and was feted in the Philippines as “Baby 100 Million.” PRI welcomes Baby Chonalyn as well, saying that she will be a blessing to her family, her community, and her nation.

The Philippines is one of the largest Catholic countries in the world, and its people value children. For this reason, it has been a target of the population controllers for decades. It was one of the countries singled out by Henry Kissinger’s National Security Council in 1974 for special “attention” and, more recently, has been bullied by the Obama administration into passing its first population control law. 

The bill, which was touted as being all about promoting “reproductive health,” was actually intended to drive down the birth rate. For example, section 15 requires that all couples receive a “Certificate of Compliance” from the local Family Planning Office before becoming eligible for a marriage license.

Some in the Philippines are decrying Chonalyn’s birth, repeating USAID’s talking points about the “dangers” of overpopulation. They welcome Chonalyn as an individual little girl, while simultaneously calling for future little girls and boys to be removed from existence.

The Philippine Star wrote that the birth symbolized a “large population that will put a strain on the country's limited resources.” Another paper cited the executive director of the official Commission on Population who bluntly said “We'd like to push the fertility rate down to two children per (woman's) lifetime.” And the Global Post cited “concerned advocates” who thought the current population was not a “complement with the country's economic growth.”

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But many other Filipinos aren’t buying into the anti-people hysteria. Francisco Antonio, a Filipino Chemical Engineering graduate student at Yale, adamantly rebutted the notion that there are too many Filipinos, saying: “I celebrate life because population control is defeatism disguised as pragmatism. And because human creativity holds more potential for protecting this planet and its inhabitants than any other resource I know of.”

A Filipina currently living in California told PRI that she welcomed the transition of her country to 100 million persons: “Filipinos are not a burden to the world population, because we not only care for our own but also for others in the world. One of the greatest and most sought after exports of the Philippines is our skilled, motivated, and exemplary workforce. And these workers tirelessly cultivate their family and community abroad and in the Philippines. We are a very social and civic minded people. We care and share because it is part of our culture and we do it with a smile.”

 Ed, a Filipino accountant, also celebrated the birth of Baby Chonalyn: “The typical Filipino does not associate a baby with ‘cost’ or ‘expense’ but rather as a ‘blessing’ and a ‘gift.’ This is because Filipinos recognize that true happiness does not come from the accumulation of material wealth or prestige, but rather, from true, genuine, and strong relationships with other people. [Filipinos] value life, not because the Church says or the Pope says so, but because they recognize it to be true. And the truth about the value of life, will continue to shine, long after the debates are over.”

It goes without saying that we at the Population Research Institute also welcome Chonalyn’s birth. We need more Filipinos, not fewer. 

Reprinted with permission from Pop.org.


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Two very different ways to respond to Pope Francis’ unrecorded interviews

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By John-Henry Westen

In the last few weeks another series of interviews with Pope Francis surfaced and have again left many Catholics scratching their heads.  Headlines all over the world had the Pope saying that two percent of priests are pedophiles, but is that what he said?  Even though the Vatican spokesman did issue a clarification, that question and others remain unanswered.

Critical reactions to these interviews have been interesting not even so much for their contents as from whom they arise.  These are the observations of some of the most faithful Catholic Church watchers today.  The folks pointing out these concerns are not, as many would assume, ‘“far right-wing-holier-than-the-Pope” types, but mainstream Catholics known for their loyalty to Pope Francis.

Phillip Lawler is the founder of Catholic World News, the first Catholic news service operating on the Internet. In part of his criticism of the most recent interview, he states: “Why was Pope Francis speaking with Scalfari without having first established clear ground rules for the conversation—rules that would certainly include recording and verification of any quotes?”

(To comprehend the situation accurately it is necessary to have an understanding of the man whom the Pope has allowed to interview him.  Eugenio Scalfari is relatively unknown in the West even after the fanfare of his papal interviews. LifeSiteNews has produced this piece to assist that understanding.)

Lawler recalls: “Back in October the Vatican had been embarrassed by an ‘interview’ in which [Scalfari’s] reconstructed quotes caused an uproar, and the Vatican press office was forced to issue an awkward ‘clarification’ which only added to the confusion.”

In addition to that clarification of the October Scalfari interview, the confusion and uproar got so bad that the Vatican removed the interview from their website, where they had it posted in the section containing the Pope’s speeches. Interestingly, that interview resurfaced two weeks ago on the Vatican website only to be removed again after a new round of criticism.

A blogger at the EWTN-owned National Catholic Register offered an observation similar to Lawler’s but with a little more bite. Pat Archbold writes, “The internet is once again abuzz with the second-hand hearsay of an unrecorded Papal interview.” Archbold advises his readers with characteristic sarcasm, “So pay no attention to those crazy and outlandish anti-Catholic headlines tearing up your RSS feed.  Just ignore them and hope they will soon go away, just like unrecorded Papal interviews.”

A second unrecorded conversation with the Pope makes news

Another write-up of an encounter with Pope Francis also caused a stir.  Brian Stiller, an Evangelical leader from Toronto was part of a delegation of Evangelical Christians who met with Pope Francis earlier this month. In his July 9 account, Stiller puts in quotes this statement he attributes to the Pope: “I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community.  There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s not spend our time on those. Rather, let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.”

That led noted priest-blogger Father Dwight Longenecker to first caution that the quotes are “Brian Stiller’s memory of the conversation.” 

Then with the caveat of not actually knowing the whole conversation, Fr. Longenecker says “it would not be unusual for a Catholic priest of Pope Francis’ generation to feel that way.”  He explains that he has “heard from numerous convert clergy over the years who said when they went to their local Catholic priest and expressed the wish to become Catholic the priest told them it wasn’t necessary and that they could do much more good to Christ’s kingdom and the Catholic church by staying where they were and evangelizing within their own denomination.”

“Now this strikes me as rather troublesome on several levels,” says Longenecker. He notes he had himself once used that line with a Protestant friend, to which his friend replied, “You don’t want to convert me? Why not? I don’t have much respect for your religion if you think so little of it that you don’t want me to share it!”

“He basically called me out on what was a little lie on my part. I wanted to be nice to him [so] I said I didn’t want to convert him. He said our discussion would be much better if I admitted that I did want him to become Catholic. He was right. I did. I still do.”

Inside the Vatican

Vatican journalist Edward Pentin has reported that unnamed “Vatican officials are uneasy and perplexed” about the interview. Pentin began reporting on the Vatican as a correspondent with Vatican Radio in 2002 and has since covered the pope for a number of publications, including Newsweek and The Sunday Times.

“The officials’ discomfort also extends to the Pope’s spontaneous telephone calls to strangers, a couple of which implied he deviated from Church teaching but, being private and unrecorded conversations, are difficult to verify,” he wrote for Newsmax.

From the outset of the Francis pontificate, there were these unrecorded and yet published interviews – the first was from a meeting with Latin American religious leaders in June 2013.  That was the one that had Pope Francis speaking of the existence of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican and also about being concerned about Catholics who would count rosaries to offer prayer bouquets.

At the time LifeSiteNews published nothing on that first unrecorded interview even though almost all other news services did.  Shortly thereafter I was at the Vatican inquiring about that unrecorded but reported-on encounter and was assured by various Vatican insiders that the communication was not accidental but intended – to me at the time a rather startling revelation.

But that same assessment came later from another Vatican quarter, a man who speaks German as does the pope and also shares the pope’s religious order.  “Francis knows exactly how power is spelled,” said Bernd Hagenkord, a Jesuit who is in charge of German programming for Vatican Radio in a May interview with The Atlantic. “He’s a communicator in the league with Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. They say he’s being unclear, but we know exactly what he means.”

Two different ways to respond

One of the most disturbing outcomes of these ‘interviews’ is that the words and interpretations of what is being said by the Pope, while they may be clear for the German Jesuit, are remarkably unclear for the vast majority of Catholics.  Catholics who know well their faith, its moral teachings, and the reason for them are few and far between. They are able to discern that the Pope cannot mean to undermine Church teaching; that those teachings are unchangeable.

But most people are taken in by the media’s false interpretation that ‘who am I to judge’ involves a new acceptance of homosexuality; the false possibility for legitimately-married Catholics to divorce and remarry outside the Church and still receive Communion; the idea that the Church should quiet down on her teachings on abortion, contraception, and same-sex “marriage.”  All of those false conclusions were drawn from previous Francis interviews.

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There are two ways forward for faithful Catholics in such a situation.  One way – a way that is most tempting - was recently recognized as a growing tendency by blogger Father Ray Blake. “Most Catholics but especially clergy want to be loyal to the Pope in order to maintain the unity of the Church,” he said.  “Today that loyalty is perhaps best expressed through silence.”

In leading up to that observation, Blake noted that in the previous pontificate “there was a solidity and certainty in Benedict's teaching which made discussion possible and stimulated intellectual honesty, one knew where the Church and the Pope stood.”  He added, “Today we are in less certain times, the intellectual life of the Church is thwart with uncertainty.”

However, Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke suggested a different approach recently. According to Burke, who serves as head of the Vatican’s highest court, the Apostolic Signatura, the pope has made a strategic decision to focus on making the Church appealing, and thus bishops and priests “are even more compelled to underline these teachings (on life and family) and make them clear for the faithful.”

He told EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, “The Holy Father has said on different occasions that he expects that bishops and priests are doing this teaching while he’s trying to draw people closer and not have them use [these doctrines] as their immediate excuse for not coming to the faith.”

Cardinal Burke’s strategy confronts the culture head-on even on the most difficult issues.  He sees that the often-used but failed tactic of avoiding difficult situations, of obfuscating or compromising on moral issues as worse than useless.

When truth is pushed aside for political correctness, to fulfill ideals of civility or to achieve false unity and false peace, the world is harmed by the lack of truth the Church is called to bring to it.

When truth is boldly proclaimed and held to, despite persecution, even the enemies of truth are forced to see that the opponents of their secular or liberal ideologies truly believe their teachings and are willing to suffer for them. This eventually generates a degree of respect from some of the critics and an openness to re-consider their own flawed positions.


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