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.

Click ‘like’ if you want to END ABORTION!

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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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your support. 

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