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August 21, 1998

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14 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Agust 21 i3 High school athlete overcomes amputation By BILL HOWARD Catholic News Service DALLAS (CNS) -- One of the most important life lessons Jake Repp ever learned from his grandmother came after she died. In 1994, Repp's grandmother had to have her leg amputated below the knee as a result of complications from diabetes. She died in 1995, the year that Repp entered Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas, where he would play basketball and track. Three years later Repp was in training for the 1998 World Disabled Summer Games, scheduled for Aug. 6- 17 in Birmingham, England. He, too, lost part of his leg, not because of diabetes, but because of cancer diagnosed in 1996. As he sat in his living room for an interview, he glanced down at the prosthesis that extends from below his right knee. "It's very weird that she also had an amputation and that I got to see how strong she was and how she handled it. That gave me a lot of my strength," he told the Texas Catholic, newspaper of the Dallas Diocese. "I guess that's God's mysterious ways." Repp took that newfound strength and ran with it. The cancer discovery came in the summer of 1996. Repp bruised his foot training for the upcoming Jesuit basketball season. The deep bruise was slow to heal. An X-ray revealed five tumors scattered throughout his foot. A follow-up test by an oncologist revealed 25 tumors caused by a rare form of cancer, angiosarcoma, that was both malignant and aggressive. His doctor recommended below-the-knee amputation. "I thought it was the end of the world," recalled Repp, a senior this year. "I had all sorts of bad thoughts, like this was the end of my sports career. And I started thinking different things like (my pros- thesis) would probably chase girls away, and that I'd walk with a bad limp the rest of my life." The day he decided upon the amputation, Repp eased his mind by visiting a prosthesis facility. The sight of amputees moving briskly about lifted his spirits. "I was stunned," he said. "They were walking like a normal person. I had no idea technology was that incredible." During the days leading up to his operation, he said he drew strength from his grandmother and his faith. "She was watching over me," he said, "and I knew I was in God's hands." He awoke from the opera- tion with a sense of determina- tion, he said. He learned to walk again in two-and-a-half weeks, not the normal rehabili- tation period of two months. -Repp received his first perma- nent prosthesis, a NovaCare Sabolich Mod III, at Christmas 1996. The Mod III allowed him to start playing basket- ball. His walking leg, the Reflex VSP Flex-Foot, and sprinting leg, the Flex-Sprint III, came several months later. Each leg costs between $12,000-$20,000, a concern for the Repp family. His insurance company covers the cost of one leg per lifetime, a problem for a still grow- ing athlete. The Repps have received support from family and friends; from NovaCare, an Oklahoma City-based company that specializes in prostheses technology; and donations to a fund created by friends and faculty at Jesuit College Preparatory School. "It's the first time in our lives when everybody who knows you and people who don't know you come out and help you any way they can," said Repp's mother, Amy Repp. "And there have been a lot of peo- Dr. Lloyd Duplantis from southern Louisiana has inter- esting credentials. He is a doc- tor of pharmacy, President of Pharmacists for Life Interna- tionaland a Natural Family. Planning instructor for over 20 News and Commentary By SOOZI SCHELLER Contributing Writer effects decrease but what Dr. Duplantis calls "the misery index" increases. "Misery index" side effects include weight gain, nausea, irritability and lack of interest in sex. Dr. Duplantis addressed mis- conceptions about the effective- ness rates of birth control pills. Government ministers thought that birth control pills were 99.9 percent effective in preventing pregnancies. In actuality, the failure rate will be reported as five percent in new birth control pill inserts for consumers. Dr. Duplantis helped the ministers realize that in our estimated population of 10.4 million oral- contraceptive users, 520,000 pregnancies occurred in 1995. The tablee at right compares effectiveness rates for oral con- traceptives side by side with NFP effectiveness rates. Following his testimony, pro- lifers in and out of Japan worked to deliver references and translate them into Japanese for the welfare ministers. Judie Brown of Amer- ican Life League, John Wilks of Australia, Father Paul Marx, John years with his wife Faie. Dr. Francis Hirata of Japan arranged for Dr. Duplantis to give testimony Dec. 1 last year to the Japanese Welfare Min- istry, which has the authority to ban or allow new drug products in Japanese markets. During his testimony, Dr. Duplantis described the perpet- ual dilemma that manufactur- ers of oral contraceptives here in the United States face. If estrogen is too high, serious side effects like blood clots, heart attacks, strokes and deaths become more frequent. By reducing estrogen and increas- ing progestin, these serious side Kippley, Rudolf Ehrmann and others contributed materials for a 100-plus page document with 382 references. Clergy were involved. Father John Nariai of Kagoshima translated 95 pages. Faxes flew back and forth..They worked ple praying. That has given us a lot of energy." Disabled Sports USA, a national group that serveS more than 60,000 disabled athletes, put Repp in touch with other amputee athletes. That led him to in the 1997 national games in Springfield, Mass., Repp reached the finals in the 100-meter dash, posting : a time of 15 seconds. In this year's competition, held in June in Fairfax, Va., Repp ran the 100 in 13.5 seconds. That l fourth overall and third among Americans and quali- he day he decided upon the amputation, Repp eased his mind by visiting a prosthesis facility. The sight of amputees moving briskly about lifted his spirits. fied him for a spot at the world games for the in England. Beyond that, he is looking forward to the alympics in Sydney, Australia. "When I was going through this, I knew God had some plan for me. I always gave myself the mind-set that, 20 years down the road, I'd say, 'Wow, this is why it happened,"' he said. "Really, it only took me less than two years. If this had not happened, I'd never have a chance to participate in the Olympics." Other plans call for becoming a speaker and ing clinics for young amputees. His message tothem would be that it's not the of the world to lose a limb. "I'm competitive, but I've never said, 'I could have beat you with two legs," he said. "I could easily use this as an excuse, but I don't want to. Life is about falling down and picking yourself back up." i" rapidly because the Welfare Min- istry Would announce its decision March 2. But an issue surfaced which led to postponement of the deci- sion. That issue is described by one researcher as "the silent posed by environmental ho" mones." More next week on "the threat" and why oral tives may not be sold in Japatli Birth control pills and Natural Family Planning: A corn Comparison Categories Birth Control Pills Natural Family Plann Side effects Less serious: Nausea, irri- None tability, weight gain, reduced libido Severe: blood clots, heart attacks, strokes and deaths Children become problems 94.1  97 percent 91.7 percent Inflexible, used only to avoid a pregnancy Increases medical costs Children are blessings 99.6 percent 96.4 percent Flexible, highly effective avoiding or achieving a I nancy Medical costs lowered Societal attitudes: Children Effective Rates for avoiding pregnancy with perfect use Effective rates for avoiding pregnancy with actual use Pharmacists for Life International (PFLI) is a worldwide asso- ciation of pharmacists who believe that many of the current prac- rices in today's healthcare system are ethically and morally incon- sistent with promoting health or prolonging life. To contact this organization or Dr. Lloyd Duplantis, write or call Pharmacists for Life International, P.O. Box 1281, Powell, Ohio 43065-1281. Telephone (800) 227-8359. E-mail Flexibility Economic burden "e'""'n ST. M A medical news ,romaCatho!!c Health Care perspectwe a courtesy of Services 9 : i i;i