Archive for December 6th, 2012

Joe Pablo is a world-record setting weightlifter who has only weeks to live. He shared his story with Missoulian reporter Vince Devlin this week.

Joe Pablo holds a few of the several medals and trophies he has won in competitive weightlifting since turning to the sport in 1998. (Photo by Kurt Wilson/of the Missoulian)


Pablo’s hope is that other tribal members will follow his lead and inspiration to become competitive in the sport.

By Vince Devlin, of the Missoulian:

ARLEE – Joe Pablo’s life has been a series of ups and downs the past few years, often with 300-plus pounds of weights attached to the barbells he was hoisting off his chest.

The ups? Well, for one, on July 30, 2011, Pablo twice broke the world bench press record for his age and weight class at the World Association of Benchers and Dead-Lifters Meet in Las Vegas.

Aiming to better the mark of 331.5 pounds, he did so on his opening lift of 333, then broke the world record again with a second lift of 341.5.

The downs? Four days later he checked into a Missoula hospital, where a scheduled biopsy determined he had lung cancer.

Further tests went on to reveal that – no matter how strong his arms were – his heart wasn’t healthy enough for him to undergo the necessary cancer surgery.

Pablo also had four blocked arteries in his heart.

This, mind you, was on top of the diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis Pablo had already been battling for years.

Surgeons inserted stents in arteries that were 75 and 85 percent blocked, skipped another that was 100 percent closed but where his heart had “reworked” the flows on its own, and used medications to deal with the fourth artery, which was 50 percent blocked.

They sent him home and told him they’d recall him, open his chest and deal with the cancer in a month.

“We’d just got to the top of Evaro Hill after getting out of the cath lab, and Joe just started laughing out loud,” his wife of 23 years, Melinda, says. “I thought, ‘Well, whatever medication they put him on is going to be fun.’ But he kept laughing, and I so I asked him what was so funny.”

“You know what,” her husband told her. “I just set two world records in one day with pulmonary fibrosis, lung cancer and four blocked arteries. Imagine what I’ll do when I’m well!”

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