Journal Entry


Saturday afternoon, March 27, 2004

HIGHLIGHTS OF TRANSFUSION MEDICINE HISTORY

1628 English physician William Harvey discovers the circulation of blood. Shortly afterward, the earliest known blood transfusion is attempted.

1665 The first recorded successful blood transfusion occurs in England: Physician Richard Lower keeps dogs alive by transfusion of blood from other dogs.

1667 Jean-Baptiste Denis in France and Richard Lower in England separately report successful transfusions from lambs to humans. Within 10 years, transfusing the blood of animals to humans becomes prohibited by law because of reactions.

1795 In Philadelphia, American physician Philip Syng Physick, performs the first human blood transfusion, although he does not publish this information.

Reporting live from Christi's Corner.........Good morning!! I woke up to a breakfast in bed delivered by Christi and Shayne! Wow! When I said, "It doesn't get any better than this," Christi said, "We have more of everything: eggs, toast, bacon and orange juice." I laughed and responded, "I guess it DOES get better than this!" I'm a spoiled Mommy! Thanks, sweeties!

Christi's "tossing the cookies" episode (11-13 terrible times on Tuesday) ended late Tuesday night (Thank God!) and she was back in school - although not totally up to par, on Wednesday. We now believe it was something "normal" and not her cancer taking off like we feared. (With this disease one can never relax! We can name child after child who was once happily bouncing around feeling great when suddenly the NB progressed and rapidly took them to their death. This beast is a tricky, evil devil!!!) I brought her home early from CCD (religion class) Wednesday night because I knew she was simply exhausted having endured a lot by being so ill (She was literally curled up sleeping on the hard bathroom floor at times!) and then attending a full day of school the very next day. What a champ! Still her cough remains, but the ER docs last Saturday said it could linger for weeks due to her weakened state.

Thursday morning found us up bright and early. This was Christi's big day to promote the blood drive. She and Shayne were scheduled to be the guests on the "Talk of Tiffin" at 7:10 AM on WTTF. Because research tell us that one is more afraid of public speaking than death, I was surprised that Christi was really looking forward to going on live talk radio with the DJ - Keith. (Perhaps the study wasn't based on children. hee hee!) Trust me, I couldn't have done it on THIS topic of the fight for my little girl's life! Tears wouldn't quit pouring down my face as Keith was just doing the intro and I was standing in my own kitchen listening to our radio!! And my tears didn't stop until Shayla woke up and came down stairs JUST at the time when Keith was talking about the cookies that Christi baked for the blood drive and brought to him at the studio. All of a sudden, I heard behind me a little voice demanding, "What?! You said, No cookies! You said they're for the blood drive, Mom!!!!!". To keep her quiet so I could listen, I gave in and quickly tossed her a chocolate chip cookie on the table at 7:15 AM! (Once again - I've lost the "Mother of the Year Contest" hee hee!) I thank Keith and I praise Shayne for keeping the topic on a very upbeat, positive note. This is what concerned Shayne and I the most - knowing that Christi's six year old ears would be tuned in to every word and to the tone of the program. It all was fine! Keith is making us a CD of the talk show so hopefully, Eric will somehow be able to put it on her web site as we know that many folks didn't even know it was going to be on and some who live far away may like to hear it too. While I thought it went incredibly well, Shayne felt that he didn't have much time (in just 15 minutes on the air) to talk about this 19 month journey we've been on and to say enough thank yous. The two of them made a quick stop to the Bake Shop (beside WTTF) to purchase a doughnut for Christi's teacher. (Not a bad idea since the grading period ended 24 hours later and I've seen some "B" papers come home for the first time - hee hee!)

Thursday morning's newspaper (The Advertiser Tribune) also had a lovely promotion about the blood drive on the front page. (Only kids could look darling wearing their pajamas in a full color photo on the front page!! The picture was one I snapped of Christi making cookies for the blood drive.) I thought the article was cute in that it included Christi's "Tips for Squeamish Donors" to help the grown ups handle the needle poke. (Truly, Christi is not that brave! She's all talk!) Today's newspaper kindly contained a "Hats Off to Christi" which is the top honor the local newspaper gives. Another story with a large picture appeared on a later page. The headline was misleading, "Young Cancer Patient Improving", but the rest of the article was accurate. We have certainly made progress on the disease and Christi is feeling rather normal; however, it is a lot like being a little pregnant. The disease is still there and science has no proven way to cure it that we have not already tried. It like she is a ticking time bomb. I shall paste the nice articles at the bottom of this entry and send them to Eric to scan for her site later. Thomas Team thanks to the Advertiser Tribune's writer - Mary Ann Kromer.

Thursday evening I took the girls to the library for the presentation by Christopher Canyon- an artist and fabulous children's books illustrator. (I continue to marvel at Christi's unbelievable artist talents. I must get some more art to Eric soon to add to her web site; some of her latest work is nearly unbelievable.) I wanted both the girls to hear and to learn from a real illustrator about what an artist does, especially one from the great Buckeye State! And he was great!

Prior to the blood drive, I received many emails and spoke with sweet folks who told me that they wanted to give blood, but for various reasons they could not. Oh, I hope no one was made to feel guilty over this!! (And if anyone did - don't worry!! Christi is planning to have a Lemonade Stand one day this summer for AlexLemonadeStand.com - her award winning, neuroblastoma fighting friend at CHOP who's raised thousands and thousands of dollars for pediatric cancer research with her lemonade stands. Alex wants to have one lemonade stand in each state one day in June and we've told the famous 8 year old "Amazing Alex" that she can count on TIFFIN, OHIO to help reach her goal of having 100 Lemonade Stands on the same day - all raising $$ for pediatric cancer!! If you couldn't donate blood, may you can drop by then! Unlike the blood drive, this will be a painless one - with no waiting involved!! Smile.)

We also received emails from folks who live far away telling us that they were going to juggle their schedules to go give blood on Friday in Christi's honor. (How chilling! God's people are tremendous!!!) We also heard from some individuals that they were going to donate the gift of life for the very first time because of Christi. First time donors - YES!!!! It doesn't get any better than that! What a tremendous success! Here's a sample of one email I received like this from a Prayer Warrior and mother including Mom to three year old twins in Louisiana: "Today, I officially gave blood for the first time in my life. It was not bad at all! I was a little nervous, but I thought of how brave Christi is and that got me through it. I think I will become a regular donor. I know that this blood will never make it to Christi, but it was totally donated because of her. I pray for the person who gets my blood. Thanks for giving me the push I needed to do the right thing. I hope that so many people come there is not enough employees to handle it!"

Friday f-i-n-a-l-l-y arrived! Christi and I went to school in the morning. I was glad that I was busy teaching and therefore didn't have time to think about what was going on in Tiffin where I also would have loved to have been. Thankfully, my "little friends" (as I often call them) kept me hopping and busy all day in kindergarten. At lunch time those awesome Cafeteria Ladies put Christi's school lunch in a takeout box and my dearest friend- Becky drove Christi to Tiffin for the blood drive for me. THANKS, Becky!!! (I joked with the cafeteria staff that Mrs. Baldosser could have driven Christi through McDonald's, but Christi much prefers their food to any other!)

While I only arrived at the blood drive after school, my short one and a half hours spent there was incredibly humbling and very emotional- although I was able to keep my tears from falling for the most part. Christi took her responsibility very seriously. She rotated from person to person trying to be there when they got poked. She read to them and held their hand. I was just shocked that I knew nearly every donor and if I didn't - Shayne did. I couldn't fathom (and still can't!) how so many sweet people would do something so kind, especially when the great investment of time was involved. I later reflected that each transfusion Christi receives is typically an investment of 6-8 hours. (Because she is so small, the infusion rate is very slow. Just receiving the blood through the IV drip alone takes 3-4 hours, not to mention doing the pre-draws, running the type and cross, waiting for the product to arrive, completing the paperwork, etc.) She HAS to stay at the hospital and do this procedure in order to live. She has no choice; it's truly a matter of life and death. The people who so generously turned out at the drive on Friday didn't NEED to be there at all! Yet they chose to help and to give the PRICELESS gift of their blood. The kind response was absolutely overwhelming. It is my understanding that some walk-ins left because they didn't have the beds, the time, nor the staff. We were especially appreciative of the high percentage of first time donors. All indicated that Christi had inspired them to do something brave and we hope that they all become life time donors. The event just confirmed our solid belief (and probably underlying theme of this "journey" Christi is leading us through): God's people are good!!

Very late last night, Shayne and I reflected on the day. We joked that it was the best thing our dear friend, Denise - Mother of FOUR, could think of to do for a "Mommy's Morning Out". I'm confident this sweet woman my kids say is the "World's Greatest Mom - Mrs. Bowerman!" earns a ticket to heaven every day! She didn't need to swing this too, yet she did! Of course, then there was another friend who is like a Saint - Lezle! Not only did she wait over an hour the first time, but then she got called into work, worked, returned to the blood drive, waited another hour and THEN they were able to squeeze her in to donate. There are so many other moving stories it brought Shayne and I to tears (and laughter too) as we reflected upon the blessings of the day. Yes, we "lost two" during the process - but one left determined to give it another shot soon (We thank you sweet Melissa!) and I don't think the other little thing even weighed 110 pounds in the first place! Beautiful young woman - true angels on earth!

This afternoon I was outside watching Christi, Theresa and Shayla play in the beautiful weather. A relative of my sister's husband was in town visiting friends and he walked over to chat. Now I have no idea who follows Christi and who doesn't so we chatted a bit and when he asked about her I said something like, "She was in the paper this morning for working at the blood drive. She really liked that." Then, wearing just a tee shirt, he held out his arm and I immediately recognized the betadine stain on his arm as he said, "I gave in Columbus." Oh, that was profound! I just nodded as I fought back my tears. Unbelievable! Thank you, Craig!!

This morning, I was touched to open a kind email which said: Christi was really sweet today going up to total strangers and reading to them or coloring or just talking to people at the blood drive. She told me about wanting to go to college to be an artist. She said that she and her best friend are going to go to the same college and were planning to be roommates. What a doll she was! She wrote a mini story for me while I was "under the needle".

Christi and I walked out after 4:30 with Mrs. Smith - a final "customer". I was drained both physically and emotionally after observing what I did for just 90 minutes. I knew Christi had to also be exhausted after watching her in action. (I never saw her sit down. She skipped from "patient" to "patient" talking with them, holding their hands and passing out treats. Shayne said she did that for the entire five and a half hours she was there! Although she's received training from the World's Best Hospital Volunteers time and time again to actually see HER in action - true to her word, was unbelievable.) She had said that she wanted to be like the volunteers at her hospitals who help her when she's hurt or scared during her procedures and she did just that! What a gem- a rare and precious find! I'm very proud to be her Mommy. I know at six I wouldn't have had the guts to do what she did yesterday! I truly believe she has incredible compassion and realizes what folks do to help her.

After leaving Hospice, I only needed to drive across town to get Shayla picked up from Betty Jane Preschool and to get her to ballet class. Glancing back in my "bus mirror" I noticed Christi sound asleep before I even drove half way through town. (Tiffin's not large at all - population roughly 19,000) She slept a full 90 minutes while I sat with her out in Heidelberg's parking lot, until I heard, "Where am I?" Knowing how hard she "worked", I said, "Let's just go home, or do you really want to go to ballet class?" She said, "I want to go to class." So she did. We've been blessed beyond belief! Thank you, Heavenly Father and dedicated, loyal Prayer Warriors and blood donors everywhere!!

With an abundance of thanks and gratitude,

The Thomas Girls - and Shayne

PS: This was my favorite journal entry to ever write! Of course I'm hoping to one day soon give that title to a journal entry which states she's NED, but until then....................this was it! God's people are so tremendous - truly getting us through every single day of this war and for making Christi feel so happy and special! THANK YOU!!

Christi's Joke:

(Yes, the above blank space IS correct. The above is her "joke". She said, "Put nothing. That's funny!" Are you laughing? She hopes so!)

What's Next?: Christi will continue this third round of the CRA drugs she's currently taking all through next week. On Wednesday night, she will be serving at Mass (for the first time. I'm scheduled to assist her - ought to be interesting! I hope we don't drop anything. It'll definitely be the blind leading the blind. I told Christi back in the olden days there weren't girl servers so I've never done this. I just wish the Schueler boys - who always served Mass at St. Stephen's it seemed would call and give me some pointers!) She and I will fly for the first time with an Angel Flight Volunteer Pilot ("An Angel with LICENSED Wings!") to Philadelphia where her scans/tests will be conducted April 7th to the 9th. Shayne and Shayla will drive out on Friday. Pending continued good health, she will be participating in the Egg Roll on the lawn of the White House on April 12th and shall make her first Holy Communion on April 18th. While we've been told it's truly against all odds, we pray for the miracle that somehow her upcoming scans and tests will declare her cancer free. Lord, please hear our prayer.

Funny From Shayla: "Post It Note Communications from Shayla's Preschool"

For weeks, five year old Shayla has been telling me to pack a dessert in her lunch. Now I was certain that the policy was no cookies, nor candy, nor other junk of no nutritional value - exactly the same policy I adopt in my own kindergarten for what I call "Healthy Snack Time" and only permit healthy snacks; however, I went against my better judgment and gave in. I packed her a mini Butterfinger candy bar along with a post it note (to save myself - hee hee!) saying: Shayla - This is the dessert you've been telling me you're allowed to have. (And I left off the "Love, Mommy XOXO" because she told me long ago, "That is embarrassing!") After I picked her up and went to unpack her lunch, I noticed an additional post it note on the unopened candy bar which said: Good try, Shayla! Sorry, but we are not allowed to give the children candy for a snack or lunch. (Oh, I thought this was an absolute riot!! Shayla, you are so cute and you get a 100% for effort, persistence and creativity!! I love you, honey!)

Thomas Team Thank You Note:

THANK YOU BLOOD DONORS from Christi and the Thomas Team! To all who gave (or tried to give) blood in Christi's honor at the American Red Cross blood drive at Hospice on March 26th, please accept our deepest thanks! Thank you for taking so much time out of your busy day to help others. Your kindness, generosity and love for other human beings radiated so brightly. The record turn out was overwhelming, more folks from the Red Cross were called down from Toledo, and you all made Christi feel like a real hospital volunteer by allowing her to "help" you donate your gift of life. For five and a half hours, a very happy and energetic Christi (wearing her doctor's lab coat) rotated from donor to donor holding hands, telling jokes and just being her bubble little self. Thank you for loving our little one so dearly and for praying for her so faithfully! What a blessing YOU are! Thanks!

In Thursday's Advertiser Tribune:

CHRISTI'S TIPS FOR DONORS: Christi is glad that only grown-ups will be getting poked at the blood drive "and not little people" for a change. She knows that even adults can be squeamish about giving blood. Here is Christi's advice for hesitant donors:

"If you're scared of the needle, don't watch because it could scare you. But if you aren't, watch so you know when it happens. If any grown ups are scared, I'll be at the blood drive to tell them some jokes to make them relax. I will also take some books to read to the grown ups if they need a distraction. I want to be like the volunteers at my hospitals who help me get through my treatments when I hurt or am scared."

"Lending Support to Blood Donors" by MaryAnn Kromer,

When Community Hospice Care hosts the Red Cross Bloodmobile Friday, 6-year-old Christi Thomas is to be on hand to talk to donors and pass out cookies, accompanied by her dad, Shayne.

Area residents may remember Christi's story. In September 2002, she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer that affects the nervous system. Since then, she has undergone numerous treatments, including some experimental procedures.

Since Christi's diagnosis, many family members and friends have been motivated to donate blood. Some even designated Christi as the recipient. Having received more than 40 transfusions, Christi understands the importance of blood donors, according to her mother, Angela.

"Christi has wanted to do something to help others, since so many others have helped her out during the past 19 months as she bravely continues to fight neuroblastoma," Angela said. "When we saw that Hospice was sponsoring a blood drive, we thought that was the perfect time to join in with them and to try to encourage more attendance.

"Someone in our country needs a blood transfusion every two seconds," she said. "Sadly, we know of children who have needed transfusions, but have been told to come back the next day because the blood supplies have been so low. Thankfully, this has never happened to Christi."

Angela said that Children's Hospital of Columbus charges the patient if a donor directs his or her blood to be given to that patient. As a result, Christi mostly has used blood from the general blood supply. Shayne also has given blood for his daughter.

"Christi and her daddy share the same blood type and it always seems to us that Christi's counts recover the fastest when she receives her daddy's blood."

Angela pointed out that adults can choose whether or not to have needles in their bodies, but Christi never has a choice. She is hoping that citizens will choose to be generous Friday.

In Saturday's Advertiser Tribune:

"Young Cancer Patient Improving" by MaryAnn Kromer Although Christi Thomas still is being treated for cancer, she has been doing relatively well, according to her mother.

She has been able to attend school most of this year with her second-grade classmates. During the fall, she was able to undergo chemotherapy after school. She missed school in November and December while receiving treatments at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Her mother, Angela Thomas, said Christi "has loved every day of school.

"Currently, Christi is pain-free, happy and appears to be stable," Thomas said. "She swallows two pills (of 13-cis-retinoic acid) in the morning and four pills in the evening. The side effects are the chapping and flaking off of her skin and lips. She's not permitted to be in the sunlight due to her skin being so sensitive."

Christi will return to Philadelphia in April for tests and scans that will show if the treatments have helped her. Tests in December showed that 5 percent to 10 percent of the malignancy remained in her bone marrow. If the cancer has progressed, the Thomases will be looking for a new kind of therapy for Christi to try.

"Our prayer request is that this CRA drug treatment, which is proven to mature the neuroblastoma cells in some cases, is smashing her remaining cancer cells to smithereens and getting her to a NED (no evidence of disease) status," Thomas said. "Now that Christi's blood counts have risen above dangerous levels, she is permitted to be out and about. We're trying to live normal lives despite fighting cancer."

For now, Christi is looking forward a trip to Washington D.C. She has been invited to participate in the traditional Easter Egg roll on the White House lawn after her tests in Philadelphia. Christi also is preparing to make her First Holy Communion with her religious education class soon after Easter. She spends a lot of time reading and drawing.

"She's currently devouring all of the Captain Underpants books by Dav Pilkey. She has plans of taking her sketching pads to the blood drive in case anyone would like to have their picture sketched while they give blood. She says it may help them hold still. She also hopes to share cookies and pour juice for the adults."

Interested persons can visit Christi's web site, www.ChristiThomas.com, for future updates.

and

"Hats Off to Six Year Old Christi Thomas for helping with the Hospice Bloodmobile. (comments from the above articles were then included). Very sweet! Thank you, Advertiser Tribune!!!!

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