Journal Entry


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Every two seconds, someone in our country needs a blood transfusion

(source:  American Red Cross)

Sweet Supporters,

WOW!  What a pleasantly overwhelming response to our request of help for Shayne’s participation in the New York City marathon to be a member of “Fred’s Team”!  Thanks to sweet “Angels on Earth” for their generosity!  He made it and over $2,000 has been donated to pediatric cancer research at MSKCC as a result!!  Needless to say it was quite touching every night as we would pull up his account information and see the kind folks’ names and email addresses listed who so lovely gave to help support a cure for these kids.  We’d often look at each other, and just shake our heads in disbelief.  Shayne sent an email of thanks and gratitude to those folks which said:

Thank you for your generous support.  I am glad that you feel as strongly about the cause of supporting Fred's Team and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as we do.  It continues to be our belief that the eight months Christi spent under the direct care of the MSKCC staff were critical in stabilizing her disease which has given her this extended period with a high quality of life.  MSKCC's staff has remained an integral part of our advisory team to this day. 

Yesterday morning I completed my second to last long run (3 hours).  The light can be seen at the end of the tunnel.   Whew!  With less than a month to train I picked up added motivation from your commitment. 

Not only is the cause important to us, the course is extremely symbolic.  Mile seventeen, where many runners hit "the wall", occurs on First Avenue between MSKCC and the New York Ronald McDonald House.  As you know that was a daily trek for us.  That mile contains many joyful memories of our adventures in NYC, but the most vivid are the dreadful ones.  Devastating test results, news of children who perished...it is these children who I will remember on my trek up First Avenue:  Jay, Darrin, Becca, Emma, Robyn, "Big" Kristi, Simon, Carl, Tori, Jamie, Alexia, Amanda, Shane, Paige, Olivia, Madison, Benjamin, Jake, Tyler, Alex, Cierra, Michaela, Ryan, Jordan, Trey, Joshua and sooo many other children who we were fortunate enough to meet while here on earth and who will forever live on in our hearts.

Below, I attached a picture of Christi and I somewhere near mile seventeen when we moved into the Ronald McDonald house nearly three years ago.  We are thankful for these past three years and are glad that you are a part of us.  Thank you.

Yours,
Shayne

Needless to say it was also touching and emotional to receive the following email from one of our (sadly, very few left) long time friends who is still in this fight with her son, Michael.  Sharon wrote:

"I am in tears of happiness to hear that Shayne is running the NYC Marathon. You can bet we will be there if Michael's health allows to cheer him on. I know that God will give him the strength to complete it. If he's running in Jay's Honor I beleive it will be a breeze for him. Jay wouldn't want it any other way."

So the plans are being finalized and much to Shayla’s delight SHE WILL be going with Shayne to NYC!!!!!!  Early this summer, my Aunt Marty and Uncle Jeff said that they wanted to go watch the marathon in NYC – little did they know that Shayne was actually accepted as a runner!!  So, we told them of the secret Shayne had been training for.  Recently, Shayne sent them an email saying that he thinks he’d like someone to be a 8 minute mile pacer for him from mile 18-26 then he joked, “A pacer or an EMT? I’m not certain!”  Regardless, I will feel much better with the three adults (and one very excited little girl, Miss Shayla) all going along to help Shayne with his physical and emotional quest since Christi and I are unable to accompany them on this trip.

Christi finished her chemo round on Monday and is now enjoying a week off!  The two straight weeks of daily chemo leaves her feeling quite nauseous on most days.  We’ve decided that our “traveling weekends” are over for the most part as it’s just too hard for her not to “get sick” while out on the jaunt.  She does feel better when she’s not taking the chemo though so this is seven glorious days.  This Friday she will go to her friend’s house for a sleepover and Shayla will go to a little birthday party on Saturday.  These are definitely treasured children living in treasured times!!

I’ve now completely unpacked form the “Philly Run” and I’ve received the final MIBG scan report from CHOP so I’ll paste it here:

The presence of increased uptake in the left upper ribs appears to be less intense when compared to prior scan.  The preciously seen foci of increased uptake in the:  skull, proximal humerus, mid thorax, pelvic bones and proximal and distal femora are not seen in today’s scan.  No new lesions are identified.  Impression:  No new MIBG avid lesions are identified.  When compared to prior scan there has been significant interval improvement with the persistence of the focus of increased uptake in the left upper ribs which is suspicious of remaining metastic disease.

Highlights since my last journal entry:  The girls’ cousin Josh flew in from Phoenix for about 24 hours.  His birthday present to himself was to come and see Christi and Shayla! Happy 24th birthday, dear Josh!  He ate lunch with them at school and even played “Double Dutch” with Christi’s friends out on the playground.  That night at dinner time sharing she stated that was her favorite part of the day.  Thanks, Josh!  You rock!!

A few days later, Aunt Vaunie flew in from Phoenix for the weekend.  She was here to wish Great Grandma Gear a Happy Birthday and she did so in style!  Upon our arrival at Grandma’s we went into Grandma’s living room to keep her distracted.  Meanwhile Shayne’s Mom and sister were in the kitchen.  Little Vaunie crawled inside a wrapped box.  Shayne’s Mom said to Grandma, “Your present is too heavy this year; you need to come out here.”  Shayne, unable to keep from kidding his older sister – who had to be silent hiding inside the box, started making comments such as, “If you don’t like if you can trade it in for something better.”  “You won’t hurt our feelings if you don’t like it and want to just send it right back.”  Grandma had no idea what was going on while we were struggling to keep straight faces.  As Grandma struggled to open the tape, Shayne started in again with comments like, “Do you need a sharp knife, Grandma?” and “Let’s get the scissors.”  Finally, Aunt V couldn’t stand it any longer and she jumped out of the box while Grandma first expressed shock and then sheer delight!  It was lovely!!!!!!

Mid-term time arrived at our school.  Christi has received her first Bs, maybe she’ll bring them up before the real grade cards come out in a few weeks.  The comments her teacher wrote would bring any mother delight.  I’ll type them here since I may lose them if I do not.  (Our house is currently undergoing some long overdo home improvements.  We’re painting, we’re painting, and we’re painting!! Furniture is now located in some very odd places – like the TV in our kitchen and a keyboard on our table.)

  • Christi is doing excellent work.
  • Christi is a pleasure to have in class.
  • Christi is a conscientious and dependable student.
  • Christi is very quiet and well behaved.

“MAKE YOUR MUMMY PROUD THIS HALLOWEEN,
GIVE BLOOD!”

We'd like to use this forum to ask Christi's Supporters, who don't live too far away, to please consider joining Christi and Shayne next Friday (October 21st) in Tiffin at the Community Hospice Center located at 181 West Perry Street (close to the library) for the blood drive that is being held in Christi’s honor. While walk-ins will be accepted, it's best to call Hospice to make an appointment during the 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM blood drive. 419-447-4040 or toll free at 1-800-834-8100. (Christi will arrive about 11:00 AM and will be ready to tell jokes or to read books to any grown up who needs a little bit of comfort. She knows how hard others have tried to distract her from the countless needles that have been poked into her over the past three years and she's willing to try these same tricks to help you! The now eight year old artist may even sketch your experience if you asked!  (Just what you wanted, right?? Hee hee)

Before my daughter's cancer diagnosis, I thought blood donations went primarily for accident victims. When I learned that diseases are what really go through the blood supply rapidly, I was quite surprised. For those who do take the time to donate blood next Friday, you will most likely have to juggle a work or errand schedule, but making that work somehow will mean a world of difference to blood recipients and their families.

Christi would have lost her life countless times if it weren't for blood donors literally saving hers over and over. Christi has had nearly 50 transfusions during her three year battle with cancer.  We feel grateful for the blood products that have gotten her thus far; yet, we feel even more grateful that in the realm of the “cancer world” that at 50 transfusions she’s received relatively “few” blood transfusions.  Future treatments will most likely require many more life saving transfusions.  We believe she’s worth it! 

Every single time Christi has needed a blood transfusion, I have prayed for the anonymous donor. Seeing that bag hanging from her IV pole and reading the words on the sticker, "Volunteer Donor" is incredibly humbling and has often brought tears to my eyes - knowing fully that some angel on earth did not have the time to go donate blood for my daughter, yet by their doing so they've given me another day, another week, another month with my precious baby girl. I can't think of a bigger blessing. Thank you Blood Donors!

The requirements to donate blood are as follows:

  • you must be healthy
  • be at least 17 years old
  • weigh at least 110 pounds
  • and not have donated blood in the last 56 days.

You are required to show ID - except high school students may have their identity confirmed by a school official. Each donor receives a brief examination during which temperature, pulse, blood pressure and blood count are measured. I can't help but think of one of Christi's Prayer Warriors from a far away state who went to donate blood in honor of Christi and it was then when her blood counts came back "out of whack" that her own cancer was identified - and identified early - praise God!! Thankfully, this young woman is now doing well!!!! She claims Christi saved her life! So, think of it as a free medical check up that might even save YOUR life too.

Top Ten Reasons To Give Blood:

10. You will get free juice and cookies.

9. You will weigh less - one pint less when you leave than when you came in.

8. It's easy and convenient - it only takes about an hour and you can make the donation at a donor center, or at one of the many Red Cross mobile blood drives.

7. It's something you can spare - most people have blood to spare... yet, there is still not enough to go around.

6. Nobody can ask you to do any heavy lifting as long as you have the bandage on. You can wear it for as long as you like. It's your badge of honor.

5. You will walk a little taller afterwards - you will feel good about yourself.

4. You will be helping to ensure that blood is there when you or someone close to you may need it. Most people don't think they'll ever need blood, but many do.

3. It's something you can do on equal footing with the rich and famous - blood is something money can't buy. Only something one person can give to another.

2. You will be someone's hero - you may give a newborn, a child, a mother or a father, a brother, or a sister another chance at life. In fact, you may help save up to three lives with just one donation.

1. It's the right thing to do.

Thanks for letting me bombard you great folks with great facts about donating the gift of life!!  I hope you can donate in Tiffin – or somewhere, in honor of these brave little folks fighting for their lives.

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

What’s Next? 

More chemo to start again October 20th

Blood Drive, Friday, October 21st 9-3PM at Hospice.

REMINDER:  Join Christi and Shayne as they team up with the American Red Cross and the Community Hospice Care on Friday, March 26th from 9:00 - 3:00 PM . The bloodmobile will be at 181 W. Perry Street , Tiffin , Ohio . Walk-ins are welcome, but it's best to make an appointment ahead of time. Call Hospice at 419-447-4040 or toll free at 1-800-834-8100. Thanks and may God bless you richly!  (Christi will be on hand from 11-3.)

While I know an hour of time is a lot to give up, I also remember that each transfusion Christi has received 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 I hope they chose to help and to give the PRICELESS gift of their blood. The kind response will truly make a difference in the lives of so many others!  Thank you.

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