Here’s a reminder that this disease can strike both women and men:

It may seem unusual for a Catholic priest to quote the lyrics to the Tom Petty song, “I Won’t Back Down.”

But that has been the theme song lately for Father Marty Goetz, who is in his 10th year as priest for the Divine Mercy Parish at St. Mary’s in Dodgeville.

Goetz found out last summer that he has breast cancer, which has metastasized to other parts of his body.

With Catholics all over the world praying for him, Goetz is learning to live with the disease as he undergoes treatments and works a full schedule.

On Tuesday night, during the girls‘ and boys‘ basketball games against Holy Trinity Catholic High School, Notre Dame High School held a “Strike out Cancer Night” for Goetz.

Money was raised through a bake sale, a free-will donation and a raffle, with all proceeds going to help offset Goetz’s medical expenses.

For Goetz, it was an emotional night during what he said has been an unbelievable outpouring of love and support from all corners of the globe.

“It’s overwhelming tonight,” said Goetz, 55, who was born and raised in Keokuk. “I have trouble sleeping before doctor appointments. One of the things I thought about was one of my very good priest friends said, ‘Love the people and let them love you.’ I love these kids dearly. I love my parishioners dearly. Now it’s time to accept the love they want to give to me.”

… Goetz said it is his faith, and the prayers and support of others, that has been inspiring and humbling at the same time.

“One of the things that really touched me is, my brother John, who teaches at Holy Trinity, said that the kids pray the Hail Mary for me down there,” Goetz said. “I’ve received notes from all across the country from people I don’t know saying that they are saying a Hail Mary for me. And the kids out here (at Notre Dame) have been praying the Hail Mary for me.”

Read more. 

For more on male breast cancer, check out the CDC website — which notes that about 1 in every 100 breast cancers in the U.S. is diagnosed in men — and visit the American Cancer Society website for additional information.

And while you’re thinking of it: please whisper a Hail Mary for Marty Goetz, and all who are battling this awful disease.