Journal Entry

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

"Determination is what keeps you going.

It's like a best friend."

Spoken by seven year old Christi as we rode our bikes into the wind going to visit her friend Kaylyn - 3 ½ miles away. 10/2/04

The weekend trip down to Cincinnati was fabulous. My sister's children are absolutely delightful! Thankfully, we were able to take in one of Ashley's exciting games. (She's now playing on the soccer team for her HUGE high school ' graduating class sizes are around 800 students.) She also continues to be an avid bookwork and I really appreciated her going through her personal library and sharing her favorites with me, what fun! Christi and Shelby played and played and played together as did Will and Shayla.

Will certainly pulled a good one on me! When Ashley was little my Dad bought her a red motorized jeep and said it was for all of the grandkids to share. After Shelby had used it for a while, and my Father had been deceased for about three years, Mom brought it up for Christi. Now that Christi & Shayla have gotten too big for it so we took it down for Will and boy did he love it! He ran it and ran it one day. While Shayne was busy helping Gil with his latest construction project - he's "only" adding like a kitchen and a sun room and a deck THIS time, I was watching Will and Shayla in the yard. Will kept pointing to the back of his new jeep and telling me, "More, push," so I did even though it wasn't really taking off and going by itself like I thought it should. Finally I said, "Will, honey, my back is killing me from all of this pushing. I think your battery needs charged." Little did I know Shayne and Gil were having a good laugh at my expense because the battery had been out of the jeep and in the charger the whole time – oops!

Tina and Gil so kindly insisted on babysitting the four little ones on Saturday night so that Shayne and I could go on a date. I told Shayla that she needed to be on her best behavior because I was going out on a date and she so innocently said, "Why? Don't you love Daddy anymore?" She was surprised that I was going out on a date with Daddy ' what a novel idea, honey! And a date it was!!!!!!!!! Without a clue as to where we would go we headed into downtown Cincinnati. From reading the newspaper we knew that "Chicago" was in the city. Shayne was able to see this in NYC, but I never made it. Therefore, we bought the last minute tickets, ate salads at an outside table while watching the traffic go by - thinking how very much like NYC it seemed as we used to walk by people sitting outside and eating in their restaurants. It's amazing how we will still find ourselves reminiscing about the great New Yorkers. I even emailed with two again this week. Thanks, Caroline and Lee! (Lee informed me that the teachers' union speaker is planning to use Christi in his upcoming speech about overcoming adversity. Very cool!)

The latest destructive hurricane in Florida ironically provided me with a wonderful opportunity. After church on Sunday, Tina had received a phone call from our Cousin Deb who had been visiting her husband's relatives in Pennsylvania and who was to fly back to their home in Tampa, Florida that day. They were to change planes in Cincinnati; however, their flight from Cinci to Tampa was now cancelled due to the storm and Debbie wanted to know if she and Frank and Nick could stay a few days with Tina. Well, the next thing I knew the welcome sign that was posted outside which once read, "Welcome Uncle Shayne, Aunt Gee, Christi and Shayla" now said, "Free Shelter for Hurricane Victims: Welcome Deb, Frank and Nicky". Even though we had planned to head for home about 3:00 in the afternoon, I didn't want to pass up the chance to visit with Debbie for a bit and to give her a big hug. Tina, Ashley and I took off for the Cinci airport (actually located in Kentucky – figure out that one!!) about 5:15 PM. We had dinner with them and therefore Shayne and I didn't head for home until after 9:00 arriving home just after midnight. I was thrilled to get to say hello in person even though it made for a very late night for Shayne who once again safely drove us home. Frank is also battling another form of the cancer beast and even though he looked very weak it was wonderful to see him. Nick is nothing less than stellar! I've been to his incredible public school's website for inspiration and ideas and it was great to also see this amazing, gifted young man! He and Ashley, so close in age and interests, picked up right where they left off talking up a storm - cousins are great!!

We continue to thank and praise Him for another great week. Christi did complain on Monday night of wrist pain last week, but no more complains since then. I know this beast well, but she seemed to think it was from all of the writing she had to do at school that day. "It's down in the bone," she said - just the haunting words I didn't want to hear, just the words to send my mind racing fearing the worst. The mid-October scans can't get her soon enough in my mind even though the stress and tension of this most difficult period (tests/scans time) is already starting to build.

They accessed her mediport at the hospital after school on Wednesday. Her blood counts continued to be steady. Again, all below normal levels, yet fabulous blood counts for a "kid on chemo" must less a kid who has been in continuous treatment for two straight years - ouch! (3.3 white, 10.2 hgb. 122 platelets with an ANC of 1600) Wednesday night I had yet another teachers' meeting so the girls stayed with Grandma Nonee and Paw Paw Joe for a few hours. Everyone seemed to enjoy that and of course I made certain to be there for one of my Mother's awesome meals too! (Thanks, Mom!)

Earlier in the week, we had been contacted by a news reporter from the Fostoria Review Times who wanted to do a story on Christi. Shayne asked her to join us on Friday night since we were planning to go to one of our family's favorite places: "Putt N' Pond" for some pizza and gross motor exercise for the girls. (website) As always at Putt N' Pond the girls had a blast playing the games and climbing, jumping, sliding and tossing the balls in their play area. We hadn't been there since we celebrated Christi's fifth birthday there in May of 2002 - four months before she wad diagnosed, and it felt tremendous! NEVER did I really think we'd EVER see Christi back there playing all of their great games and having so much fun! I continue to take all of this in and to marvel at the power of prayer and modern science.

The interview with the reporter was very eye-opening to me. I guess I thought that because Christi was only five when she first started this journey that she wouldn't ever remember much. Well, I was dead wrong! From the interviewer's first questions, "What did it feel like when you first found out you had cancer?" to Christi's immediate response (It felt like I couldn't breathe. I told my Mom to drive me to the hospital because it hurt so bad to try to breathe) to the countless other questions, "What was the scariest part of cancer?" (The surgery and having to have her mediport replaced.) she didn't miss a beat! This kid has not forgotten anything in my book. She even remembered the specific game she picked out from the toy room as a bribe from a nurse to get her up and walking. She explained many "tiny" details about her favorite NYC nurse, the wonderful Gail (Christi wonders if she's taller than Gail now and if Gail is still so young looking?' What a hoot!)

She even shared with the reporter some of the hypnosis techniques Dr. Pat would try on her during the horrendously painful antibody trials. She is amazing! I'll ask Eric to add the news story once it's printed.

Over the weekend, Shayne ran in the United Way's kick off fundraiser 5K run. We certainly know of the goodness of the United Way and it's many tremendously helpful organizations. Thanks to the United Way and congrats to Shayne on running a fabulous race!!

My doc class at Ohio State is once again in full swing now. I've been listening to books on tape to help me with the four hours I spend in my van. Last night I took Shayne's suggestion of listening to "Tuesdays with Morrie". The awesome Tiffin Seneca Public Librarian, Julia, hopped right up and pulled it right off the shelf for me on Saturday. All about a teacher who is dying yet teaching his "last class" to a student of one (the author) it was a great read (listen, whatever!).

Wishing you peace!

With love, thanks and gratitude,
Angela and the Thomas Team

What's Next? Her oral chemo will continue again all this week. Blood counts to be checked again on Wednesday. We're hoping for a calm week followed by an exciting weekend spent with Shayne's Dad down in Kentucky! Saturday we'll be heading to "Cats" which is playing at a theatre in Louisville. (The girls have memorized nearly every song and love watching the PBS video. To see it live will be spectacular I think!) We're also hoping to go spelunking at Mammouth Cave before returning home on Monday afternoon. The family will drop me off at OSU on Monday night while they go to kill some time in Columbus and then we'll all drive home together. Here's wishing you a great week and Columbus Day weekend! Enjoy!

PS: I'm still having computer situations so I hope that those who haven't received any emails from me understand and are able to go to the website if they want to check in on Christi. Thank you!

Written by Christi at school:
I am not in a hurry to grow up. I like being a kid. I don't have a lot of responsibility like taking care of family. Grownups always have to go to work and most of them also go on the weekends. I only have to go to school.