2006-05-19 / Team Leominster

Body slamming leukemia

Wrestling show to help teen, family grappling with cancer
BY BILL GILMAN CHAMPION EDITOR

A mom, a dad, 12-year-old son, 16year-old daughter, a home in the Whalom district.

By all accounts, Jack and Patti Pichnarcik had a pretty typical, all-American family. That is, until January 2003, when the family was diagnosed with cancer.

In the most narrow sense, it was young Mark Pichnarcik who was actually struck by leukemia. But every member of the family has been impacted by the disease in some way.

"Absolutely, we've all had to change our whole lives around it," said Patti, who no longer works so that she can be available to facilitate her son's treatment. "When my daughter comes home [from college] she never knows if we're going to be at home or in Boston at the hospital."

Mark, now 15, has been undergoing chemotherapy for more than three years. While that has successfully controlled the leukemia, he's scheduled to also begin radiation treatment soon, as the cancer had spread to his spine and his testicles.

"He'll have to do 6-8 weeks of radiation. That'll be every day down in Boston," said Patti.

While they battle Mark's leukemia as a family, the disease has taken its toll on the family both emotionally and financially.

Enter Billy "Big Evil" Whitten.

The Leominster wrestler heard from a friend about Mark and his family and decided he wanted to help out in some way. The result is a Unified Championship Wrestling show on Saturday, May 27, at 7 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus on Lancaster Street in Leominster.

Tickets are $20 each for adults and just $3 each for children 12-under when accompanied by an adult. Proceeds will benefit Mark and his family.

The event is being sponsored by the Leominster Champion.

"Mark's a really good kid and we wanted to help him out," said Whitten. "Hopefully we'll get a big crowd."

The main event on the car will feature a return match as Whitten, the former UCW champion, looks to reclaim his belt from Bert Centeno in a lumberjack match. The two men met in April and Centeno walked away with the title after Whitten was clocked with the championship belt by Tom Worthley, general manager of the Knights of Columbus.

Among those in the crowd that night were Mark Pichnarcik and his family.

"Hes always been a big wrestling fan," said Patti. "When he was little, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin was his favorite."

Mark has been battling cancer with the same type of courage and grit that Austin was famous for. Of late, his biggest obstacles have been fatigue and allergic reactions to several antibiotics.

"He's even had allergic reactions to some of the pain medications they've given him," said Patti.

However, Mark does not intend to let allergic reactions or side effects keep him home the night of May 27. He intends to be in attendance at the Knights of Columbus to cheer on Whitton.

In addition to a full card of wrestling, the show will also feature musical entertainment, a 50/50 raffle and an auction for a Cam Neely autographed jersey.

Tickets for the show are available at the Knights of Columbus (978) 840-6633 and at World Gym (978) 840-1701 and will be available at the door on the day of the show.

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