Support For Christi Thomas

This blog is to help offer support to the Thomas Family and their daughter, Christi, in her battle against cancer. Please visit Christi's website at to learn more. There, you'll find journals, photos and a lots of other information about this amazing child and her family.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Heidelberg Lemonade Stand Raised $1,135 for ALSF!

Wow!  We could not be more pleased, shocked or excited to report that this year's Christi & Alex's Annual Lemonade Stand at Heidelberg University raised $1,135!  We thank all of the kind and generous donors and know that the online donations were instrumental in this great success.  Thanks to all who gave, organized and volunteered for this wonderful event!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Christi's Annual Lemonade Stand - Tuesday at Heidelberg University. Please join us!

In 2004, with an invitation from Dr. Lori Arnold Gine, Christi held her first lemonade stand at Heidelberg University. Since Christi's death, Shayla has continued this work. On Tuesday, she will make a presentation about childhood cancer at the university and then she will be outside of the Education Department, where she has again partnered with the Ed. Department, Dr. Julie Green, Amanda Barger and KDP students to hold the annual stand. Shayla will be there from 11-1pm. Please stop by, chat with Shayla and make a donation. Every little bit helps! If you are unable to drop by in person, please donate through this link.

Many, many thanks!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Christi Remembered (5/12/97 - 9/19/06)

Eight years ago today, our cherished and beloved daughter, died of neuroblastoma. Christi was 9 years old on the 19th day of the 9th month of the year. It was 9:00am when she took her last breath. I thank God Shayne and I were both awake and with her when she left us. Shayne sat beside her and held her left hand; I sat on her bed and with my hands on her left thigh. Each time we thought she took her final breath and was gone, she would let out one more. That amazing girl actually had us giggling as she died, which was so typical of how it was in the fullness of her life. Through my tears, I told her she didn't have to be a superstar, she could just relax and go. I don't think she really cared that she was dying; she was in unbearable pain and just wanted to feel better. Not a day goes by when we don't think of Christi and long to have her back. I'm sometimes haunted by some of her last words, "I hurt all over" and Shayla's, "I don't want to be an only child! I love Christi!" I know it bothers Shayne that he had to give her painful shots, often every day for weeks, and that whole process - especially with a little girl fearful of needles - was horrific! He hated yet, yet all most childhood cancer parents have to do these horribly inhumane procedures and it is the most unnatural thing in the world.

It has been said during Christi's four year continuous battle with cancer, where she was always in treatment and never made it to remission, that I only posted her "cute and spunky" pictures on her website ( and that I rarely showed the true and ugly side of childhood cancer. I must admit that is probably true and I did hide a lot, not wanting others to see her when she wasn't "pretty". Well, in honor of Childhood Cancer month, and as I'm a bit "salty" over her death, I'm doing some of that today too! I'm sharing what childhood cancer looks like and I'm also not too happy that in the eight years since her death and in the 12 years since her diagnosis, the statistics of living for just five years after being diagnosed with neuroblastoma stage IV is only 20%. These poor kids only have a twenty-percent chance of making it through the next five years! Christi made it for four! Why has this not improved in 12 years?! Why are CHILDHOOD cancers not a priority?! Childhood cancers are not the result of poor lifestyle choices. These children and teens have done nothing wrong!

If you want to help children fight cancer, please don't donate to a "general" cancer organization, but to one designated especially for children and one for childhood cancer research - like Alex's Lemonade Stand. Shayla has partnered with Heidelberg University again this year and together they are holding their annual "Christi & Alex's Lemonade Stand" on campus on September 30th. If you can't attend in person, we invite you to use the link below to make a donation. As Shayla will tell you, even donating a small amount helps. It all adds up! Together we can help fund a cure. Thanks for your consideration!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dr. Maris & Dr. Reynolds are doing an ASLF event in Christi's Honor

Some of you may remember, minutes after Christi died in Philadelphia, we had in advance arranged to have some of her stem cells removed and flown to California with the goal of having scientists establish a new cell line for researchers to try to figure out her specific cancer so they could determine how to destroy it so other children would live. Dr. Maris kept stressing we had been through enough and we did not need to do this, but it was our way to "give back" and a way to actually find a cure for Christi's type of cancer. While we watched the nurse extra four huge viles and do the "mini-autopsy" on Christi's still little body, I never prayed so hard asking God to let this work. No other family should ever experience this horror.

Despite being cautioned that likely hood of actually getting this to work and establishing a new cell line was slim to none, months later we received a phone call from Dr. Maris informing us that Dr. Reynolds' lab in California was indeed able to get it growing and despite objections he was able to convince others and meet our only request.......naming it "FU_NB06". (I bet you can figure out why Shayne insisted on that name, lol!) I'm sure you can figure out the FU and the year Christi died (2006), but the NB is the abbreviation for Neuroblastoma, the cancer that killed Christi.

Months later, this news was actually published in "Science" (Vol 315, 5, in 2007). We get occasional updates "here and there" about her cell line. We always hear it is highly requested, especially by new researchers. We think they must like the "looks" like all the other cell line numbers; however, this one has a little twist with the "FU" in the name.

Thanks to researchers sharing with us, we've seen what Christi's cell line looks like under the microscope (an evil, vicious and disgusting beast) and videos used of chemicals trying to destroy it.......without any luck. We've heard researchers say, "Any subtance we've tried on FU-NB-2006 has yet to work. It is incredibly stubborn and resistant."

As you may know, funding for pediatric cancer research is down considerably and therefore it turns to help from private sponsors and individuals. Two weeks ago Dr. Reynolds and Dr. Maris kindly contacted us and asked if they could use Christi and the story about her cell line in their personal fundraising events. They also sweetly praised Shayla and the work she's done with Pediatric Cancer Research Fundraising and could not believe how much she's grown since they last saw her. Dr. Maris and Dr. Reynolds are doing this fundraiser in Christi's honor and named their Alex's Lemonade Stand Event "Cellbusters". Here is the link if you'd like to learn more, donate, or sign up to help run in ALSF's "Million Miles Campaign".

Thanks for your consideration! September 1st begins Pediatric Cancer Awareness month.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Our County Fair!

Shayla is writing this entry:  
Meet Toby, my brilliant quarter-horse partner! This little paint can do just about anything. This year at the fair, we competed in Western, English, Trail, Showmanship, Contesting and Versatility events. On top of being multi-talented, Toby is very well-mannered. When little kids want to pet a horse, I'm always glad to take them to Toby because I'm confident he'll be a good boy. We did better than I ever expected, earning Western Horsemanship Reserve Champion and Overall Western High Point Reserve Champion. The week sparked some new things for us to master next year. I find I never stop learning about horses.  

Saturday, August 02, 2014

A Dream of Christi's - to go to Heidelberg University! (It just came true!)

I was incredibly touched recently to have the sweet secretary at the Education Department at Heidelberg University contact me and say they would like to include Christi in the mural going outside of the Early Childhood Classroom.  She asked me to come in and meet the artist, and what a talented, sweet and amazing woman Beth is!  I shared a bit about Christi and her connection to the Berg with her and I was so proud of myself for not crying (until I got to my car that is)!  Sherri Bowerman´╗┐ kindly shared photos of Christi with the artist and I headed out.  Much to my surprise and delight I'm blown away by this incredible mural!  The likeness of Christi is mind-boggling and I could not be more appreciative or pleased!  Thank you so much to Beth, Sherri and Heidelberg's Education Department for remembering our "little lemonade girl".  We'll see you soon!  THANKS!

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Summer Thomas Team Update

I see it's been a while since I updated.  I also heard ABC's Nightline re-ran the story about Hope Jackson scamming famous people again.  Thanks so much to those sweet and loving people who reached out to us following the episode.  There are definitely great people in this world!  The "Hope Jacksons" of the world are very few and far between - thank goodness!

All is well here!  We've had a fantastic summer so far!  Shayla competed in the state pageant.  She didn't win, but we all three had a ball at Miss Ohio week.  She was incredibly blessed to have had 64 supporters walk (or bark) beside her car or ride on her Alex's Lemonade Stand float (or stunt and tumble) during the parade.  It was a ton of fun and we are very grateful for the $500.00 donation for ALSF which we were very surprised to receive.  God's people are good!

Following Miss Ohio week, Shayla went with a friend from school to Mackinaw in northern Michigan.  She had a ball.  Once we realized she was not going to be around we decided to do something we would not do with her so we went on a cruise and had the most relaxing vacation ever.

I finished my summer teaching and am thrilled to have obtained three publications this summer so my latest research will be printed and read by fellow educators soon - very exciting!  

Shayla started her driver's education training classes which can be started at 15 1/2 in Ohio.  She's learning a lot - and I am too!  Who knew you failed your driver's test if you took both hands off the wheel?  I didn't, but when I did that at a red light the other day she told me, "You would have just failed your test for that."  Oh, what a hoot!  And one more reminder of how children learn from their parents actions!

Enjoy the rest of your summer, sweet bloggers!  I'll update after the fair!  Keep your fingers crossed that Toby is a good boy for Shayla and that all of the riders stay safe and on their horses!

Here are more of Shayla's state pageant photos: