No... I don't know Wes Pak personally. But I've been reading about him tonight after I saw his mother, I believe she was his mother, on the road near the house today.
She was in a black Nissan Versa with a message scrawled on her back windshield. At first, I wasn't close enough to read it but was intrigued because the message was longer than those usually scrawled on the back of a car.
As I got closer, I was able to make out what it said... and was deeply moved.
I snapped the following picture quickly with my phone at a stoplight:
Tonight I'm asking you loyal readers and those of you who've stumbled by to spread the word, to pray for Wes, to pray for caregivers, his mother and family. To pray for a miracle. I've added him to my list of intentions and will pray a Rosary for him daily.
The missus has been cancer free since her surgery but trust me when I tell you that we are aware of the fear and the effects that this dreaded disease can bring to a family. We know we'll never rid ourselves completely of that fear. And October can, perhaps strangely to some of you, bring that fear to the forefront.
I am not a ranter by any means and I have been pretty quiet about “Pinktober” and what has come to be known as “Pinkwashing” in breast cancer circles, but seeing October 13th advertised as “National No Bra Day” and as a “fun” way to support people with breast cancer has pushed me over the edge.
Are you kidding me? How on earth could a day where girls and women are encouraged to walk around with their nipples poking through their shirts be “supportive” for women who are living with or who have died from breast cancer, or who have managed to ‘complete’ the arduous treatments and disfiguring surgeries required to put them into remission?
I think the answer is simple. It is not.
Like so many women–and men–who have faced this disease, I have lost my breasts to cancer. Though I had a terrific surgeon, it was a physically and emotionally disfiguring surgery.
The cancer had gone so deep and was so extensive on my left side that it was at first inoperable. Even after months of chemo, my surgeon took as much tissue and skin as possible and went deep into my axilla (underarm area). The cancer had metastasized to my lymph nodes and had invaded them to such a degree that they broke open to allow the cancer cells to go beyond the walls of the nodes. Because of how invasive the surgery was and of how much nerve damage, etc. resulted, it was not only extremely painful then, but continues to be a source of pain and phantom sensations that affect my entire upper torso even today.
I required over a year of physical therapy just to be able to raise my arms again and I still don’t have full function or range of motion. And, because of pain, swelling, conspicuous compression sleeves and gloves, I am constantly reminded of the lymphedema that resulted from the surgery and loss of my lymph nodes. Oh, and the life-threatening infections that forced a couple of hospitalizations and four months of massive doses of antibiotics this summer (almost 2 years after my original surgery), are also a little reminder of some of the things that the bilateral mastectomy and lymph node surgeries have left me with. And there is so much more…
So the thought of seeing bra-less women flaunting two body parts that I have lost to cancer — more than I already see this on a regular day — does not feel all that supportive. In fact, it feels quite the opposite.
I consider myself to be an open-minded person. I do my best not to judge others or their beliefs and ideals. I have a pretty good sense of humor and am usually the first to poke fun at myself. And I make light of breast cancer and my struggles, treatments and their side effects, lack of breasts, fear of death, etc. fairly frequently. It is how I cope. But, given what I have been through, I think I have earned the right to joke and make light of how this terrible disease has affected me. But if you haven’t been there or taken care of someone who has been there, then you should think twice before you publicize a day that jokes about putting the first body parts we usually lose to this disease “out there” on display even more conspicuously and then labeling it as an activity that helps our ’cause’.
We live in a society that makes a huge hoopla about breast cancer while at the very same time trivializing the seriousness of the disease. How can we be so contradictory?
She's not done.
Her message is one I think needs airing. Perhaps you'll want to read the whole thing and then, in the spirit of awareness, pass it on.
The likelihood that a woman age 25 to 39 will be diagnosed with advanced breast cancer has steadily
increased since the mid-1970s, researchers from Seattle Children’s and Oregon Health and Science University have found.
Analyzing data from hundreds of thousands of cases collected in three national cancer registries, the researchers, whose work is published in Wednesday’s issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), found no other age group had such an increase.
Although breast cancer overall is relatively rare in younger women, it is the most common malignant tumor in young adult women, who tend to experience more aggressive disease and have lower survival rates, the study’s authors said.
The study looked at the extent of disease at the time of original diagnosis, comparing the change in incidence in each age group from 1976 to 2009.
The increase in incidence of metastatic disease in the 25-39 age group was small — an increase of 1.37 cases per year for every 100,000 women — but statistically significant and steady throughout the time period, said the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Rebecca Johnson, medical director of the Adolescent and Young Adult oncology program at Seattle Children’s.
Since 1992, when data on race and geographic location were added to the databases, the increase among women in that age group occurred in all races and ethnicities evaluated and in both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, the researchers said.
Non-Hispanic white women and African-American women, as well as women with estrogen-receptor positive subtypes of cancer, appear to have been most affected.
186 percent increase
Over the time period analyzed in the study, the number of women ages 25-39 in the U.S. grew from about 22 million to approximately 28 to 30 million — a figure that’s been steady since the 1980s, Johnson noted. That’s an increase of about 36 percent.
But in the same period, the number of women in that age group with an original diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer increased from 293 in 1976 to 838 in 2009, an increase of 186 percent.
No other age group had a similar increase.
“We’re interested in these trends,” Johnson said, “with the hypothesis that cancers of adolescents and young adults may have unique biological features that more research may uncover.”
She hopes future studies may reveal why the rate of metastatic breast cancer in young women has increased.
“The rate of this change has been so rapid we think it’s likely there’s some sort of external factor,” she said — perhaps a “modifiable risk factor”such as obesity, alcohol use, the age when a woman first gives birth, an environmental toxin exposure, or a combination of factors.
“It could be complicated, it could be simple, or something we haven’t thought of yet,” Johnson said.
Two of the most important types of hormones that control reproduction are estrogens and progestins. Birth control pills are made from synthetic estrogens and/or progestins. Experiments have shown that these hormones cause women’s breast cells to divide more rapidly.  Cells which divide more rapidly are more prone to develop into cancer cells.
2) What is the evidence that the Pill and breast cancer are connected? In 2005, the World Health Organization classified oral contraceptives as a Group I carcinogen—the most dangerous classification known. Also, a comprehensive meta-analysis* published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings in October, 2006 found that 21 out of 23 retrospective studies done since 1980 showed that women who took oral contraceptive prior to the birth of their first child sustained a 44% average increased risk of developing pre-menopausal breast cancer, [see Table A]. ] This risk rose to 52% for women who took the pill for at least four years prior to the birth of their first child.
3) How serious of a problem is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in U. S. in women age 20-59. In the U.S. about 211,000 women are diagnosed annually and over 40,000 die from this disease. More than one in five women who are diagnosed with breast cancer (ie, 47,000 women annually) will develop it before menopause. About one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some time in her life and one fourth of such women will die from this disease. Using the birth control pill, especially at a young age, markedly increases a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer. This risk is increased even higher when combined with other breast cancer risk factors such as induced abortion, hormone treatment (such as estrogen supplementation), family history of breast cancer, and other factors.
4) Do some contraceptives cause more risk than others?
Yes. Research studies show that breast cancer risk is almost tripled for women who used Depo-Provera for 2 years or more before age 25. 
5) Are other types of cancer affected by oral contraceptive pills?
Oral contraceptives decrease the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer, while they increase the risk of cervical and breast cancer.  Since breast cancer is far more prevalent than the other three types of gynecological cancers, the pills overall effect is detrimental to women.
6) Are there other risks from contraceptives? Yes. Well known side effects of the Pill include an increased frequency of blood clots, high blood pressure, and heart attacks, as well as migraines, depression, loss of libido, and a variety of other disorders. Less well known is that oral contraceptives and injectable progestins (such as Depo-Provera) significantly increase the risk of contracting and transmitting HIV (the AIDS virus). [7,8] In addition, medical studies strongly suggest that oral contraceptives work at times by causing an early abortion. 
Next time you hear someone talk about the war on women being waged by Catholics, perhaps it'd be good to have them open their eyes to this.
Sometimes in life, circumstances can…well, let’s not beat around the bush folks, they can suck. We can decide to let them define us and how we live our life. Or we can envision how we want life to be and how we will deal with the adversity.
This video is about that. But first a little setup is needed.
The man you’ll see speaking is Chuck Pagano. Chuck spent 28 years toiling as an assistant in college and the NFL before becoming the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts this year. Chuck hasn’t been on the sidelines since late Sept. when he found out he has a treatable form of leukemia.
Also relevant, the Colts were a dismal 2 & 14 last year. They completely rebuilt the team, less a handful of veterans they kept, and are just a bunch of rookies and castoffs nobody wanted. They were picked by everyone, including this diehard Colts fan of 40 plus years, to win no more than 5/6 games.
Chuck is about to receive his second round of treatment but managed to go see his team play yesterday. They won to improve to an improbable 5 & 3 and are in the hunt for the playoffs.
Here is Chuck Pagano addressing his team post game.
In July, I posted the story of actor Christian Bale, star of the “Dark Knight” trilogy, visiting victims of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, while they were in the hospital recovering. He didn’t pursue any media coverage for this. Pictures only got out because the families of the victims he visited were excited to share this gesture of kindness. Now Christian Bale has done it again.
Four-year-old Jayden Barber from Ohio was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago. Despite chemotherapy, it spread to his bones, and Jayden was diagnosed as terminal. It was Jayden’s greatest wish to meet the superhero, Batman, so – according to the Facebook page of an animal rescue organization called “Gremlin the Therapy Dog” – a local family made that dream come true by throwing a party and having someone dress up as Batman for Jayden. A few days later, Christian Bale got wind of Jayden’s wish and flew him and his entire family out to Los Angeles.
Bale spent a whole day at Disneyland with Jayden – and put his family up at a hotel there for a week. Everything was kept quiet until the other day when the family revealed what happened on their Facebook page called “Lighting the Batsignal for Jayden.”
Adding to our Easter joy this week, my lovely bride (and the family that loves her) has received the news that her Oncotype DX results were low enough to NOT require chemotherapy. We are ecstatic to say the least. There are more hurdles to overcome but they're much smaller than those we've already leapt over and they're now much fewer in number.
Our joy, though robust, is tempered by news we're receiving in the family about a loved one fighting her own battles and so while we pray with gratitude about our circumstance, we pray earnestly for her and her situation.
For now however we embrace victory and pray that others will experience the same.
Thanks be to God who gives us that victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now her tumor will be sliced and diced (literally) and tested to see whether or not chemotherapy is in her future. This test is called the Oncotype DX Test and we're hoping for a Recurrence Score low enough to forego the chemo. We won't know for two weeks.
So the bottom line is that we continue to win battles in this war but more battles lie ahead.
Yesterday we received the final lab report confirming that her lymph nodes are negative for cancer. Great news in and of itself. I can't tell you how relieved I am.
We do have our first meeting with the Oncologist Friday where we should see the results of the genetic testing that was done and we should also be making a decision as to the need for chemotherapy. We're prepared for treatment if necessary, we're hoping they tell us it won't be. For you praying types, there's a focus for ye (and know please that we so appreciate your prayers).
I'm learning that my wife did one heckuva lot more around the house than I gave her credit for. I'm wore out but I'm also treasuring every minute I have with her. So far she tells me I'm not smothering her (and she's not the fibbing type) but she really is doing remarkably well. She insists on walking daily and has worked her way up to walking more than a couple of miles now in a single jaunt. Pretty incredible. I'm thinking I'd be curled up in a fetal position if they'd done to me what they've done to her. Tuesday evning, she insisted we go to Plaza to have dinner, this not an hour or so after a 2 mile walk. No margaritas for either of us (which was quite the sacrifice) but she did get to enjoy some of her favorite avocado dip. And of course, the company of her family.
Please do keep praying. This war will be a long one, but right now, we're winning the battles and kickin' some serious booty.
I hope to quickly get back to some fresh posting... there's lots that I could put up but just so little time right now what with tending to my bride's needs and doing that which she would usually do around the house (which is quite a ton frankly).
I appreciate your patience and loyalty.
Things I hope will get back to normal here and sooner rather than later.
If you'd like, use this post as fodder for bringing things up in the comments and talk amongst yourselves.