Most all of us have something to overcome in our lifetime. Forty-four-year-old Paul Szach, born and raised as a respectable hometown citizen, has certainly had much more than his share of adversity. Even if you know Paul, you may not know about his medical problems.
Paul endured many infant/childhood surgeries and hospitalizations. In 2007, he suffered two heart attacks and was diagnosed with multi vessel disease which excluded him as a candidate for heart-bypass surgery. Instead, his condition is managed with numerous medications. In 2011, he was diagnosed with type II diabetes, adding even more medications and care to his already heavy regimen.
In August 2013 a routine visit to his cardiologist revealed that a "window of opportunity" had emerged for Paul; he was now a candidate for heart bypass surgery. Paul's and his family's delight was short-lived. To their dismay, pre-op testing for that surgery revealed problems that ended with a diagnosis of stage 3 esophageal cancer.
Paul underwent daily radiation and weekly chemotherapy this past winter, followed by ongoing cancer procedures and doctor visits to Roswell Park. He will continue chemotherapy indefinitely since his cardiac issues mean he is not a candidate for any surgeries.
Adversity has not stopped Paul and the Szach family. They are handling this latest challenge as they always have - courageously fighting together and doing whatever it takes to move forward.
Paul works at First Student but is now on unpaid medical leave. He and his wife Mildred own their home in Dunkirk. They have two children, Aaron, and Cassandra. Paul has lived and worked all his life in the Dunkirk area as do his parents and his sister and her family. Paul also has a brother and family in Chester, Va.
Paul proudly serves and promotes his community as a 26-year member of Murray Hose Co. 4 volunteer firefighter and an avid member of our area drum corps all his life - the latest as an officer of WNY Drum & Bugle Corps Alumni Association.
The family is asking the community to be "PAULSTRONG." A benefit for him will take place on Sunday, Sept. 7 at Rookies on the Lake in Dunkirk from 1 to 6 p.m.
Advance tickets are available from Carol Pietrkiewicz, Cathy Deszcz, Danny Rancka, Debbie Pasierb, Elaine Tippens, Gary Sutter Jr., Irene Cosme, Jane Wiant, Janelle Hawkins Sysol, Jessica Smith, Judy Krzyzanowicz, Lois Tworek, Lori Szach, Lorraine Cole, Mary Jane Szach, Mary Porto, Maryjane Russo, Melanie Graves, Patty Odebralski or Ron Szach. Tickets will also be available at the door.
Mary Jane Szach is a Dunkirk resident.