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Faith over fear

Breast Cancer Awareness Edition

Kendra Kilpatrick stays positive through it all

News Press Stillwater

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

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Why is pink associated with Breast Cancer Awareness? By Frankie Meyer CNHI News Oklahoma

This month, our world turns many shades of pink. Some communities will be ablaze with brilliant pink fountains and lights, while others will feature pink canals. At workplaces and schools, women and girls will sport pink ribbons, sweaters, bracelets, masks, shoes, pins, necklaces, fingernail polish and leggings. Why so much pink? October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and its symbol is the color pink. Activities honor those who have lost their lives to the disease. Events also raise money for research, testing and treatment. In addition,

funds are used to increase the awareness of symptoms and causes of the disease. Those goals are critical because breast cancer is the

second-leading cause of death of women in the U.S. and the leading cause of death of women in the poorest countries. When compiling a

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family history, we often learn of an ancestor or relative who had the disease, because an average of 12% of women in the U.S. have

it during their lifetimes. The rate varies, depending on the area. Women in Washington, D.C., have the highest rate in our country. Families with an especially high number of family members with the disease should be aware that heredity plays a role. Several genes that can cause the disease have been identified and can be tested for. A few of the other factors that can affect a woman’s chances of having the disease are a low level of physical activity, being overweight, consumption of alcohol, birth control pills and hormone treatment. The best-known fundraising activity is sponsored by the Susan

G. Komen Foundation – a global movement that began in 1982. It is now the world’s largest nonprofit source of funding for the fight against breast cancer. The group is famous for its walks. Other types of fundraisers are also held around the world. Because of the pandemic, some have been restructured to allow social distancing, while others will be held as virtual events. Examples are luncheons, symposiums, dances, art classes, stage plays, fashion shows and parades. How common is breast cancer in your family, and what fundraising activities will be held in your community?


Kendra Kilpatrick threw out the first pitch during a Pink Out Night in September for the Stillwater High Fastpitch Team.

By Jimmy Gillispie/Stillwater News Press

Kilpatrick remains positive through breast cancer battle By Jimmy Gillispie jgillispie@stwnewspress.com

up as a coach, but girls have come to me asking about that. … I don’t want this to sound like I’m putting on a show, but knowing people are watching really has affected how I react to things.” Kilpatrick’s year began like most as it was fairly normal. The one caveat with her was she was pregnant with her second child. Kilpatrick and her husband, Ross, were expecting their first son. Kendall Kilpatrick was born April 14 and has been a healthy baby for nearly six months. He’s also been sleeping through the night recently in the Kilpatrick’s new home they had built and moved into in late September. She has dealt with giving birth and a can-

cer diagnosis during a pandemic, in addition to battling cancer and moving into a new house this year. Kilpatrick is also teaching math virtually while helping students through the district’s Edgenuity program. Kilpatrick has remained the SHS girls’ basketball coach. The team officially began practice last week on the same day she was scheduled for lumpectomy surgery. Now, she awaits the results of the mass to see if the cancer spread and will need an additional surgery or if she’ll begin radiation in a couple weeks. With the unknown awaiting Kilpatrick and the results, she has been able to enjoy some highlights of the year. One of those occurred

last week when she threw out the first pitch at the SHS softball Pink Out Night. She was the honoree of the night, and she was able to celebrate it with her daughter by her side. “They did a really nice job with that whole thing,” Kilpatrick said. “I don’t know who did the write up for Brodie (Meyers), but he did a really nice job. They didn’t ask me to proofread it and I didn’t know they were even reading anything, but he did a fabulous job. It was spot on about the whole journey in a one-minute thing. “The girls were really sweet. They had flowers, a mask and a signed ball. Also, having Riley up there with me was special.”

3

rick has benefited from a large support system that’s helped keep her spirits up this year. “It has been easier than expected for me to stay positive,” Kilpatrick said. “I have a peace about all of this. I’m not saying it’s been easy or fun, but we’ve just really had a peace through this whole process and believe there is a reason it’s all happening. God has a reason for this and I’ve been able to see it working. Obviously, I don’t know his reasons but I’ve seen it working through conversations I’ve had with people I never would have had if this had not happen. “I’ve had basketball players talk to me about my faith and strength, and those are conversations I can’t bring

Stillwater NewsPress • Tuesday, October 6, 2020

In some manner of fashion, Kendra Kilpatrick shares a sense of the unknown and timidness about what most would describe as a crazy 2020 year. Yet, for her, it’s quite a bit different than most. The young wife and mother of two who teaches math and coaches basketball at Stillwater High School has been battling breast cancer since her diagnosis April 8. “Mine has been an unknown year in many facets of my life,” Kilpatrick said. “I’m still just like everybody else in the unknown with sports and jobs. I’m like everybody that way, and my health has been

just like that. We found out I was having cancer right when this whole pandemic thing started. … The pandemic hit and so did this, and neither thing has gone away yet. “You can let your readers know I’m supposed to be finished with this in December, so they can expect the pandemic to be done in December,” she said. “We’re just going to get rid of everything at the same time.” That attitude and optimism is something that hasn’t left her during the past six months. Despite tough times and small setbacks as far as what she hoped – one of which was the lump in her breast not completely going away during chemotherapy – Kilpat-


Kendra Kilpatrick threw out the first pitch during a Pink Out Night in September for the Stillwater High Fastpitch Team.

By Jimmy Gillispie/Stillwater News Press

Kilpatrick remains positive through breast cancer battle By Jimmy Gillispie jgillispie@stwnewspress.com

up as a coach, but girls have come to me asking about that. … I don’t want this to sound like I’m putting on a show, but knowing people are watching really has affected how I react to things.” Kilpatrick’s year began like most as it was fairly normal. The one caveat with her was she was pregnant with her second child. Kilpatrick and her husband, Ross, were expecting their first son. Kendall Kilpatrick was born April 14 and has been a healthy baby for nearly six months. He’s also been sleeping through the night recently in the Kilpatrick’s new home they had built and moved into in late September. She has dealt with giving birth and a can-

cer diagnosis during a pandemic, in addition to battling cancer and moving into a new house this year. Kilpatrick is also teaching math virtually while helping students through the district’s Edgenuity program. Kilpatrick has remained the SHS girls’ basketball coach. The team officially began practice last week on the same day she was scheduled for lumpectomy surgery. Now, she awaits the results of the mass to see if the cancer spread and will need an additional surgery or if she’ll begin radiation in a couple weeks. With the unknown awaiting Kilpatrick and the results, she has been able to enjoy some highlights of the year. One of those occurred

last week when she threw out the first pitch at the SHS softball Pink Out Night. She was the honoree of the night, and she was able to celebrate it with her daughter by her side. “They did a really nice job with that whole thing,” Kilpatrick said. “I don’t know who did the write up for Brodie (Meyers), but he did a really nice job. They didn’t ask me to proofread it and I didn’t know they were even reading anything, but he did a fabulous job. It was spot on about the whole journey in a one-minute thing. “The girls were really sweet. They had flowers, a mask and a signed ball. Also, having Riley up there with me was special.”

3

rick has benefited from a large support system that’s helped keep her spirits up this year. “It has been easier than expected for me to stay positive,” Kilpatrick said. “I have a peace about all of this. I’m not saying it’s been easy or fun, but we’ve just really had a peace through this whole process and believe there is a reason it’s all happening. God has a reason for this and I’ve been able to see it working. Obviously, I don’t know his reasons but I’ve seen it working through conversations I’ve had with people I never would have had if this had not happen. “I’ve had basketball players talk to me about my faith and strength, and those are conversations I can’t bring

Stillwater NewsPress • Tuesday, October 6, 2020

In some manner of fashion, Kendra Kilpatrick shares a sense of the unknown and timidness about what most would describe as a crazy 2020 year. Yet, for her, it’s quite a bit different than most. The young wife and mother of two who teaches math and coaches basketball at Stillwater High School has been battling breast cancer since her diagnosis April 8. “Mine has been an unknown year in many facets of my life,” Kilpatrick said. “I’m still just like everybody else in the unknown with sports and jobs. I’m like everybody that way, and my health has been

just like that. We found out I was having cancer right when this whole pandemic thing started. … The pandemic hit and so did this, and neither thing has gone away yet. “You can let your readers know I’m supposed to be finished with this in December, so they can expect the pandemic to be done in December,” she said. “We’re just going to get rid of everything at the same time.” That attitude and optimism is something that hasn’t left her during the past six months. Despite tough times and small setbacks as far as what she hoped – one of which was the lump in her breast not completely going away during chemotherapy – Kilpat-


‘Don’t wait because of COVID’ By Randy Griffith CNHI News Service

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Like everything else, hospitals’ October breast cancer awareness campaigns have been redefined in 2020, taking on new significance during a global pandemic. While pink-out games and other public awareness events may not be happening, or happening with reduced crowds, the overriding message for women to get their mammograms is more important that ever. Screening mammograms were halted for

several weeks in the spring as the coronavirus surge shut down elective procedures, and many women continue to avoid coming to health care facilities due to fear of COVID-19 exposure. “When this pandemic first hit, a lot of my ladies couldn’t get their mammograms,” Johnstown breast surgeon Dr. Patti Ann Stefanick said. “We just started back up in June, but some deferred their appointments. They didn’t want to go anywhere. They didn’t want to come to me. They just stayed home. I’m afraid some will skip a year.”

As new COVID-19 cases stabilized, many programs have returned to full operation. Modified scheduling to prevent crowded waiting rooms and other safety measures are in place. “We don’t know when COVID-19 is going to end, but cancer patients have to come in,” breast surgeon Dr. Renée Arlow said at Conemaugh East Hills outpatient center. “You need to be seen, and you are going to be seen.” Getting that word out has been challenged by the pandemic, nurse navigator Dena Diehl said at Indiana Regional Medical Center in

Indiana, Pa. Through its M. Dorcas Clark MD Women’s Imaging Center, the hospital held special events to draw attention to the services, including café gatherings and a special day to reach the Amish community. Most of those – along with the center’s cancer support group meetings – have been canceled to avoid large gatherings. Mondays were walk-in days for screening mammograms, but that has been put on hold to keep waiting rooms safe. “Walk-in days were very popular,” Diehl said. “People miss them.”

At Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center at Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber, Pa., breast surgeon Dr. Deborah Sims said patient safety has been the No. 1 priority. “We opened very cautiously.” Sims said. “We have been calling patients back since June and July. I am seeing patients I should have seen earlier.” Early detection is still the key to surviving breast cancer and an annual screening mammogram is still the best tool for detection. “Don’t wait because of COVID,” Sims said. “We will see you.”

Windber was the first area hospital to offer COVID-19 antibody tests. All patients at the breast center are offered the test, with an option to participate in research through Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine at Windber. Antibody tests show an individual’s prior exposure to the coronavirus causing COVID-19, even if there were no symptoms at the time. The research institute will periodically re-test participants to see how long the antibodies are present.

See Don’t, Page 5

Early detection is essential to fighting Breast Cancer

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Stillwater NewsPress • Tuesday, October 6, 2020

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Breast cancer doesn’t quarantine By Sally Sexton CNHI News Service

When it comes to maintaining your health, routine check-ups and appointments are key. “Early detection saves lives,” Plano resident Debi Olson said. “I cannot stress how much it has saved my life.” Olson, a Solis Mammography diagnostic patient, has become an advocate for that message, brought on by her own personal experience. Olson had always been healthy, and had gone in regularly for her mammograms until last year, when she put it off for a couple of months. When she went in in January, doctors found two lumps

in her right breast – one that had grown to the size of a bar of soap in 18 months. “It could be a matter of life or death,” Olson said. “I was very lucky I had a double mastectomy and did not have to have any radiation or chemo. But my story could have been totally different with a different ending had I waited just another six months.” Solis Mammography’s theme this year is “Breast cancer doesn’t quarantine.” Staff members are working to get that message out, especially at a time when some might not be as likely to schedule an appointment during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re living in unprec-

edented times. No one could have foreseen the emergence of COVID-19 and the impact it has had on our society,” Solis Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alexander Sardiña said. “All communities had to take the time to figure out how to co-exist with COVID. Unfortunately, this precautionary pause unwillingly resulted in unplanned delays in care. “However, breast cancer ‘does not quarantine.’ One out of every eight women will still be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. There are women who are walking around with undiagnosed breast cancer. As we resume a sense of normalcy, it is time to prioritize breast health. We need to expe-

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Hospitals are also testing all patients for active coronavirus infections prior to surgery, said Dr. Dianna Craig, a breast surgeon at UPMC Somerset and UPMC Altoona. The Pittsburgh-based hospital group shut down screenings and elective surgery for several weeks, but has seen women coming back for care following the reopening, Craig said. “We are back at full steam,” she said. “It was just delayed a little bit. You need to get out the word that it is safe. They need to come back. You don’t need to be afraid.”

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• Make it a habit: Routine mammograms can detect early stage breast cancers at a time when they are most treatable. • Do it monthly: Self-exams should be performed at the same time, every month to check for changes in size, shape and texture. • Know your risks: Become familiar with your risk factors. There are lifestyle and genetic predispositions that can impact your risk for developing breast cancer; this includes knowing and understanding your breast density. • You are never too young: Breast health awareness and education should begin in your 20s and 30s.

Continued from Page 4

Stillwater NewsPress • Tuesday, October 6, 2020

We suppo rt Br east Canc er Awar eness

dite the diagnosis and get on the path to recovery. Postponing an annual mammogram or waiting until next year is simply not an option.” While regular exams are key, Sardiña said there are several signs to look for in between visits that could signal a problem. Those signs include a new breast lump or mass, enlarged lymph nodes in the upper chest, nipple discharge, puckering or dimpling of the skin, newly inverted nipples or changes in the size or shape of the breasts. Sardiña also offers the following advice: • Start at 40: If you are of average risk, begin having mammograms annually at age 40

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Look out for false donation claims October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and many businesses are marketing products and services donned with pink ribbons to show financial support for breast cancer charity groups and organizations. While this is a legitimate practice, be on the lookout for dishonest businesses who claim to support breast cancer research or services through the purchase of pink products, but pocket the donations instead. The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to research pink product and charity

claims before making a purchase or donation. “The pink ribbon is not trademarked, so any company or charity can use pink or a pink ribbon,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas said. “That’s why it’s important to be on the lookout for companies who make false claims that they financially support breast cancer research with their pink products or in their advertising.” BBB recommends consumers take the following steps to ensure their donations go where they are needed:

• Investigate: Remember to read labels on products carefully for disclosure of information. If you can’t find information, contact the business directly and ask the following questions: What portion of the purchase price will be donated to the charity? When will the charity receive the donated amount? What exactly is being funded? Are donations to the charity from the business capped? When is the last day to donate? Confirm the charity’s corporate partners. Many national breast cancer charities list corporate partners and sponsors

on their website. Check to make sure the business you’re purchasing from is associated with the charity. • Use your head as well as your heart. Think about the product that you are purchasing. Is it something that you want or need? If the answer is no, then consider making a donation directly to the breast cancer charity of your choice. That way you know exactly how much money is going to the charity of your choice. • Keep an eye out for copycat charities. In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission charged about a half a dozen

charities who were charged with swindling nearly $200 million from donors. In order to make sure donations go to the right place. If you suspect a scam involving a ‘look-a-like charity,” do not give. Be watchful for names, logos, slogans or colors which are similar to the legitimate charity. Be wary of bold claims such as “100 percent of donations will go to the charity.” This is not true since all charities have fundraising, program and administrative costs. Be wary of vague claims, such as “all proceeds go to charity” or “your

purchase will benefit a charity.” Also keep in mind that when donating to crowdfunding sites, it’s often difficult for donors to verify the trustworthiness of those requesting assistance. Avoid giving to a fraudulent charity by going to Give.org . For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer or to share your experience with a business, go to bbb.org. To report a fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call BBB at 703-276-0100 or report it via BBB Scam Tracker.

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Survivor attributes healing to Rother By James Neal

A five-time cancer survivor, who has beaten long odds twice, attributes her survival to her faith, and especially to the intercessory prayers of Blessed Stanley Rother. Rother, an Okarche native and Oklahoma priest who was martyred in Guatemala in 1981, was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in 2017. Martha Lou Potts, 81, of Enid, said she doubts she’d be alive today without the special prayers she’s been praying since Rother was beatified in Oklahoma City. Potts’ story is as deeply rooted in Oklahoma as Rother’s. Her grandfather made the 1893 Land Run and settled in Enid, and her father worked here as an attorney. Potts went to school at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, then returned to Enid to teach music in the public schools. Raised a Protestant, Potts said she was drawn to Catholicism after watching lay women volunteers from the Legion of Mary, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, care for her mother as she was dying. “I saw how they helped take care of my parents when they were ill,” Potts said, “how they practiced humility and love, and I just fell in love with the Catholic Church.”

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Stillwater NewsPress • Tuesday, October 6, 2020

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‘A casualty of World War II’ Potts’ passion for travel eventually took her from Enid, to accept a job with the Department of Defense school system, teaching music to children of U.S. service members at a Marine Corps base near Hiroshima, Japan – the site of the first of two atomic bombings of Japan by U.S. forces, on Aug. 6, 1945. Potts arrived there in the early 1970s, and quickly assimilated into Japanese culture, even playing as the first American musician in the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra since the beginning of World War II. She lived in Japan for seven years, and then for several years settled in Charleston, S.C., near some of the Marine Corps friends she’d made in Japan. But, more than 30 years after the bombing of Hiroshima, Potts said she learned the bombing had caught up with her. Not long after settling in South Carolina, she was diagnosed with fallopian and ovarian cancer. “I was kind of stunned, but my oncologist, when he found I had been in Hiroshima, he said, ‘Miss Potts, I think you are a casualty of World War II,’” Potts said. “He believed the cancer was there because I had lived in their economy, ate their food, drank their water and drank milk from their cows.” Potts was given only

a 5% chance of survival. But she dug into chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries. Between treatments and surgeries, Potts said she kept herself motivated by traveling to new places – a lifetime passion that has, thus far, taken her to 33 foreign countries and all 50 U.S. states. In spite of the odds, Potts went into remission. But in 1988, she was again diagnosed with cancer – that time it was black mole, or skin cancer. Radiation and removal of affected areas of her skin led again to being cancer-free, and by 2006 Potts was ready to settle down and come back to Enid. But, cancer was not done with her. “As soon as I landed here, I developed breast cancer,” Potts said. “So, here we go again with more surgeries, more chemotherapy and radiation – all of that.” Again, she beat the cancer. And, from then until 2018, Potts remained cancer free. But in 2018 she got her worst diagnosis yet – she had esophageal cancer, with just a 3% chance of living through 2019. But again, she was determined to beat the odds. “I told them, ‘I am not a statistic,’” Potts said. She signed up for proton therapy at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, while also receiving care at Integris Cancer Institute in Enid, in between her trips to Houston.

Shortly after starting her treatments, which she described as “brutal,” Potts gave new significance to a small prayer she’d had in her kitchen for more than a year. “When Blessed Stanley went through that (beatification) ceremony in Oklahoma City, for some reason I cut out a prayer of intercession for Blessed Stanley Rother, and put it on my refrigerator door,” Potts said. After her cancer diagnosis, she said she began to lean frequently on that prayer. “Every time I would pass my refrigerator, I would pray that prayer,” she said, “because I needed all the help I could get.” Drawn to Rother Potts said she was drawn to Rother because of his ties to Oklahoma, and his humility and love for the people he served in Guatemala. Rother was born in 1935 in Okarche and was ordained a priest on May 25, 1963. He served as an associate pastor in Oklahoma for five years before volunteering to serve at the Oklahoma mission in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. While at the mission, Rother learned Spanish and the Tz’utujil language and helped translate the New Testament into the native dialect. He assisted in the opening of a school, a hospital and a radio station, and used his farming expertise from Okla-

homa to help impoverished farmers harvest different crops, build an irrigation system and create a co-op. Guatemala was embroiled in a civil war during Rother’s time there, and the Catholic Church “was caught in the middle due to its insistence on catechizing and educating the indigenous people,” according to an Archdiocese of Oklahoma City press release. Due to his role in serving and teaching indigenous people, Rother’s name eventually was placed on a death list. Despite the danger, he chose to stay with his people, and on the morning of July 28, 1981, three masked gunmen shot and killed him. No one was ever held responsible for his murder. In 2016, Pope Francis officially recognized him as a martyr for the faith, and on Sept. 23, 2017, his beatification was celebrated in Oklahoma City. Potts said she had long been in the habit of making intercessory prayers to St. Adele, and other saints. She acknowledged a common misconception that Catholics “worship” saints, and explained intercessory prayer is when a person of faith asks a saint to pray for them, as a person may ask a friend or trusted clergy person to pray for them. “I am not worshiping any saint,” Potts said. “I am just talking to them as I would to talk to you.”

‘Talk with Blessed Stanley’ When she undertook the practice of intercessory prayer with Blessed Stanley Rother, Potts said she immediately noticed a difference. “I instantly felt a peace, I really did,” she said. “Every time I’d come back from a treatment, I’d go over to the refrigerator and have a little talk with Blessed Stanley.” Six months ago, Potts said her prayers were answered. Her oncologist, Dr. Sumbal Nabi, gave her the good news: She was cancer-free. “I almost had a revival meeting right there in the office, when she told me that,” Potts said with a laugh. Nabi said it’s not uncommon for faith to play an important role in patients “staying focused and positive, which is so helpful for good results.” “Cancer diagnosis confronts patients with the fact that they are vulnerable to disease and suffering, that they are mortal and that their time may be limited,” Nabi said. “When we are in good health, all these questions are in the back of our head. However, with a cancer diagnosis, they take a central and compelling spot, which is why cancer is commonly referred to as a wakeup call also. Religion or faith at this point helps with coping and healing, with the quest for meaning and the question of ‘why me?’”

See Blessed, Page 11


Blessed Continued from Page 10 According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 69% of cancer patients say they pray for their health. And, Nabi said, a recent study published in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, suggests a link between religious or spiritual beliefs and better physical health reported among patients with cancer. “And that is what I see in my practice as well,” Nabi said. Potts has been cancer-free for six months. She is back to eating regular food, her tumor is gone and there are no cancer cells detectable in her body. Good medicine, good doctors and nurses all were

necessary, and played a crucial role in her recovery, Potts said. But, ultimately, her recovery, to her, is nothing short of a miracle. “The good Lord is doing it,” she said. “I am here by the grace of God, and Blessed Stanley and St. Adele and all the saints.” Potts has been interviewed, along with other Oklahomans, by the Arch­ diocese of Oklahoma City on the effects of intercessory prayer in her recovery. Diane Clay, director of communications for the archdiocese, said those accounts are being reviewed, to see which will be sent to the Vatican for “review and possible validation as a miracle” in Rother’s case for sainthood. To learn more about Blessed Stanley Rother, or for updates on the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine, go online to archokc.org/stan leyrother.

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LEFT: Blessed Stanley Rother appears at Mass during his ministry in Guatemala, which ended when he was martyred in 1981. RIGHT: Martha Lou Potts, then in her thirties, plays violin for the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra, in Japan in the early 1970s.


12 Stillwater NewsPress • Tuesday, October 6, 2020

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