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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Dr. Miriam Grossman speaks to large audience in Mississauga, Ontario Steve Jalsevac/LifeSite
Lianne Laurence

VIDEO: How DO you to talk to kids about sex? US sex-ed critic gives practical tips

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

MISSISSAUGA, ON, August 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Talking to their children about sex is “anxiety provoking to say the least,” for parents, says American sex-ed expert, Dr. Miriam Grossman.

“Some people just can’t even do it, and that’s okay,” the New York-based psychiatrist told the crowd of 1,000 who packed a Mississauga conference hall August 18 to hear her critique of the Ontario Liberal government’s controversial sex-ed curriculum.

After Grossman explained how the Liberal sex-ed curriculum is dangerously flawed and ideologically driven, she used the question-and-answer session to give parents much appreciated and sometimes humorous practical advice on how to teach their children about “the birds and the bees.”

“If you feel you can’t do it, maybe there’s someone else in the family or in the constellation of people that you know you can trust that could do it,” said Grossman, author of “You’re teaching my child WHAT?” and an internationally sought-after speaker on sex education.

A child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist with 12 years’ clinical experience treating students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) clinic, Grossman said explaining sexuality and procreation to children is “a process,” that “shouldn’t ideally happen all at once. A child is not a miniature adult, and absorbs…new information differently than adults do.”

And parents need to be sure just what their child wants to know.

To illustrate this, Grossman referred to her earlier story about a father who gave his son every detail on human procreation after the boy asked him, “Dad, where do I come from?”

After the father finished, his son replied, “Well, that’s funny, because Johnny told me that he came from Montreal.”

“Try to find out what your child is really getting at, and, don’t give it all at once,” Grossman said. “You start with a little bit at a time…and you know, there’s so many variables here, and people have their own traditions and their own ways of explaining things, and something that might be right for my family might not be right for your family.”

She also advised that, when confronted with a four, five, six or seven-year-old asking about a pregnant woman, or where babies come, a parent can ask, “What a good question that is. What do you think?”

And parents can also legitimately put off the discussion when appropriate, telling the child, “That’s really not something you need to know about right now.”

“Wow, what a novel idea: Telling a child that they could wait until they’re older to discuss that subject,” Grossman said, adding that parents wouldn’t brook a six- or even fifteen-year-old child asking how much money they made or had in the bank. “Excuse me? Not every subject has to be an open book.”

However, the time will come when a child needs to know “about how her body’s going to change, about reproduction, about how a new life is created.”

That time, Grossman advised, is puberty, or “as puberty is beginning,” and this is especially so for girls, who, if unprepared for the surprise onset of menstruation “might think [they’re] dying.”

“The actual nitty-gritty about the birds and the bees and intercourse” can “be told in bits and pieces, or it can be told all at once, if you feel it’s necessary,” she said, adding that it’s beneficial if the parent acknowledges his or her awkwardness, because the child will think: “This must be such an important subject that my mother or my father is sitting there squirming, but he’s doing it anyway. I’m really loved.”

“And the children need to understand that as you grow up, you change a lot, not only physically but emotionally,” Grossman said, “and what may seem odd or disgusting when you’re ten years old, or whatever age, it becomes something very special and beautiful when you’re older and you’ll understand it later. You don’t have to understand it now.”


Know your child and guard your home

But as an essential foundation for this discussion, parents must both know their children and guard their home from the encroachments of a culture that Grossman described as “very, very sexualized” and “really horrible.”

“Children need parents who are loving but are also firm and authoritative,” she asserted.  “They don’t need best friends. They need us to guide them, to know what they’re doing, to be on top of what they’re doing.

So parents need to be aware of whom their child is “hanging around with, and what kind of movies are they watching…what’s going on with your child.”

“You need to know that anyway, even if it’s not about sex education,” she pointed out. “Try and know your child. Every child is different.”

And Grossman emphasized that it is “extremely important to be careful about what your child is exposed to in the home, in terms of television and Internet, obviously.”

Children need to understand that “just like you have garbage you take out of the house, you put it in the garbage bin, it’s dirty, it smells…there are other things that also don’t belong in the house.”

And children learn quickly what is, and is not, permissible inside the home, Grossman said. “Me, I keep kosher…If I go into a store, my kids know from a very young age, we don’t eat that.”

So they are used to the idea of “the world outside and the inside world, of inside your home, and inside your heart as well.”

Parents can also convey this by telling their children that “the world is an upside-down place, and sometimes the most special, holy subjects are…just thrown in the gutter. And that’s a bad thing. In our family, in our tradition, we don’t do that.”

“Sexuality is one of the subjects that in this upside-down world, it is sometimes just in the gutter,” she said. “And so I want you to tell your child to come to me when you have questions, I will give you the straight story about it.”

Grossman herself is “not even sure,” as she stated in her seminar, that sex education should be in the schools: “I believe sex education should be at home for those parents that want to do it.”

She also noted that parents “can make mistakes. We all make lots of mistakes but it’s okay, you can always come back and do it differently,” adding that this is “another wonderful message for your child. You know what, it’s okay to make mistakes, you can always go back and try and fix it.”

Grossman urged parents to visit her Facebook page, website and blog. “I have so much information you can get there that you’ll find useful,” and added that she will be publishing books for children, and has posted her critique of New York City’s sex-ed curriculum, which is similar to Ontario’s.

The parental backlash to that sex-ed curriculum, set to roll out in the province’s publicly funded schools this September, has been “amazing” Grossman noted.

Grossman’s seminar was sponsored by Mississauga-based HOWA Voice of Change along with the Canadian Families Alliance, an umbrella group representing more than 25 associations and 200,000 Ontarians opposed to the curriculum. The report on her devastating critique of the sex-ed curriculum can be found here, and the video here.

Ontario readers may find information and sign up for a September 2 province-wide protests at MPPs offices here. So far, there are protests planned for 92 of Ontario’s 107 constituencies. The parents’ movement seeking removal of the curriculum is urging all concerned citizens to join this special effort to influence individual Ontario legislators.

See related reports:

Ontario’s dangerous sex-ed is indoctrination not science says U.S. psychiatrist to large audience

Videos: US psychiatrist tells parents “stand firm” against dangerous sex-ed

See the LifeSiteNews feature page on the Ontario sex-ed curriculum containing nearly 100 LifeSite articles related to the issue

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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Did the pope just endorse a gay children’s book? Of course not, says Vatican

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

ROME, August 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- While mainstream media is gushing with news today that Pope Francis allegedly praised a children’s book that promotes gender theory, the Vatican is decrying what they called the "manipulation" of a cordial letter from an official in the Secretariat of State to suggest that the Vatican is promoting teachings contrary to the Gospel.

Italian children’s author Francesca Pardi was reported by The Guardian to have submitted a parcel of children’s books promoting the acceptance of homosexuality and gender theory to Pope Francis in June after Venice’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro publicly banned the author’s newest book, Piccolo Uovo (Little Egg), from children’s schools. The book was criticized by pro-family leaders for promoting non-natural family structures of two men and two women.

In a letter accompanying the books, Pardi wrote: “Many parishes across the country are in this period sullying our name and telling falsehoods about our work which deeply offends us. We have respect for Catholics. ... A lot of Catholics give back the same respect, why can’t we have the whole hierarchy of the church behind us?”

The Guardian is reporting that Pardi has now “found an unlikely supporter in Pope Francis,” who through his staff has responded to the author and is presented as “praising her work.” It quotes the following from a July 9 letter to Pardi from the Vatican.

“His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values,” wrote Peter B. Wells, a senior official at the Vatican Secretariat of State, in a the letter The Guardian is reporting it has seen.  

While the letter gently calls the author to use her talents to spread “genuine human and Christian values,” The Guardian takes it as the pope’s endorsement of gender theory.

“Pope Francis sends letter praising gay children's book,” the paper’s headline states. “Italian book that explores different family types including same sex was banned by mayor of Venice, but pontiff becomes unlikely supporter,” reads the subtitle.

In a press release that Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi sent to LifeSiteNews on Friday, the vice speaker of the Vatican, Ciro Benedettini, made clear that the friendly reply letter to the author in no way approves of attitudes or positions that are contrary to Catholic teaching and the Gospels.

The Vatican's statement also says that in the original letter from the secretariat of state Wells merely "acknowledged receipt" of the materials sent by Pardi, and also made clear that the letter was private and not meant for publication. 

"In no way does a letter from the Secretary of State intend to endorse behaviors and teachings not in keeping with the Gospel," says the statement, decrying the "manipulation" of the letter.

Benedettini said the blessing of the pope at the end of the letter was meant to be for the author herself, and not to affirm positions concerning gender theory that are contrary to the Church's teaching. Using the letter to this end is erroneous, he said.

Pope Francis has strongly condemned the notion of “gender theory” on numerous occasions, saying that it is an “error of the human mind that leads to so much confusion.”

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Lisa Bourne

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Poll suggests most US Catholics wrongly believe Pope Francis backs gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

August 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- A considerable majority of U.S. Catholics are in conflict with Church teaching on abortion and marriage, a new study says, and a startling number of those also believe Pope Francis backs homosexual “marriage.”

Despite Church teachings, Catholics in America also closely parallel the general populace in their support for abortion and homosexual “marriage,” falling short in the Biblical call to be “in the world but not of the world.”

The findings suggest what many Catholics have said is a climate of confusion in the midst of the Francis pontificate. Concerns over that confusion prompted a coalition of pro-family groups to respond with an international petition effort asking the pope to reaffirm Church teaching, drawing more than a half-million signatures.

The survey, conducted by Public Religions Research Institute, found that 60 percent of all U.S. Catholics favor legalized homosexual “marriage,” compared to 55 percent of all Americans. Likewise, 51 percent of Catholics think that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 53 percent of the general population holding this view.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a sacramental union between one man and one woman, mirroring Christ and the Church respectively as bridegroom and bride.

The Church also teaches that life begins at conception, that each human life possesses dignity as a child of God and is to be afforded protection, making abortion an intrinsic evil.

Catholics, accounting for 22 percent of adults in the U.S. population, have a favorable view of Pope Francis, the study said, but they are very confused about his take on homosexual “marriage.”

Of the Catholics who back homosexual “marriage,” 49-percent also think the leader of the Catholic Church backs it along with them. Fifteen percent of those Catholics who oppose homosexual “marriage” also mistakenly believe Pope Francis supports it.

Pope Francis has made numerous statements in support of life, marriage and family, but the confusion remains.

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"After Ireland and the U.S. Supreme Court both approved same-sex 'marriage,' a strong reaffirmation of Church teaching could save the sacred institution of marriage, strengthen the family and dispel the lies of the homosexual revolution," TFP Student Action Director John Ritchie stated.  "Young Catholics -- even non-Catholics -- look to the Church as a beacon of morality and stability in our Godless culture, but some of our shepherds have issued confusing statements."

TFP Student Action is a part of the lay Catholic organization American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, and is part of the alliance behind the Filial Appeal, the petition asking the Holy Father to reinforce Catholic teaching at the Vatican’s upcoming Synod on the Family in October.

Ritchie explained how the confusion was aiding the Church’s enemies, and warned of the potential consequences.

"This prayerful petition asks Pope Francis to clear up the moral confusion that's been spreading against Natural and Divine Law," he said. "If the enemies of the family continue to chip away at holy matrimony, the future of the family and civilization itself will be in even more serious peril."

At press time more than 500,000 signature had been gathered for the appeal, including five cardinals, 117 bishops and hundreds of well-known civic leaders.

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