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 www.ChristiThomas.com 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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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Eleven Years Ago Today She Left us


Eleven years ago this morning, she left us.  When Christi was born, I assumed I'd teach her about the world.  Little did I know then, I would teach the world about her.  Her website, www.ChristiThomas.com, quite novel back in 2002 when sweet Webby created it, hit "one million" unique visitors on the day of her funeral. I now have guilt about sharing her story with others, now knowing how hard they were also hurt by her death. With Christi's intelligence, wit, attitude, spunk, humor and desire to love others (including the furry ones), she was hard not to fall in love with!  I feel like from the moment she was born she took the world by storm.

I have guilt about trying so hard to save her life and putting her though the hell of the the many horrific and painful experimental Phase I treatments she endured instead of just letting her go.  We did all of that to her thinking and praying each new experimental trial would be the very thing to save her life and we wanted to live with no regrets feeling like we did everything we could, but now I question that.  Christi was too awesome not to try all of those Phase I and II clinical trials, but I do feel differently now remembering all she went through -- the pain, the pills, the needles, the sicknesses, the surgeries, the transfusions, the treatments and more.  

Sadly, in 2017, the statistics for Stage IV neuroblastoma are still horrible.  In September of 2002, Christi was five years old at the time of diagnosis, which is very old for this cancer and which makes it nearly impossible to cure.  She was only given a 35% chance of living the next five years.  They were right.  She didn't make it five years.  Neuroblastoma, stage IV, diagnosed after the age of two, is a beast!

Today I tell myself not to be salty, but I must admit I am.  I can usually force myself to put on a smile and look on the bright side and to be filled with thanks and gratitude, but quite frankly, today I'm just sad she's not here and wasn't given a chance to make the significant contribution in this world I really believe she would have made.  I'm heading out to spend the day with some awesome former students in their classrooms again today and I'm thankful for that!  It will be a great way to not dwell on the fact our sweetheart isn't physically here because of a monster called childhood cancer.  My deepest thanks for all who loved our daughter and who supported us during our many troublesome days.  We know Christi was deserving, but we are not.  Thank you!






Friday, May 19, 2017

Christi's Sister Graduates from High School

Many sweet Christi followers have been with us since the very beginning.  Shayla was only three years old when Christi was diagnosed with cancer.  (She never remembered a time when Christi didn't have cancer.)

Well, those sweet supporters may be very surprised to learn that Christi's little sister is graduating from high school tomorrow and she will soon be leaving for college.

Thomas team thanks to the loving individuals who have followed us through our journey from Christi's diagnosis, four year battle, death,  and our recovery and learning to live without Christi -- something I'll admit we all three still struggle with at times. Regardless, I will bet Christi is very proud of her sister and she'll be with her soaring off to greater things.  Thanks for being on this journey with us throughout Shayla's (almost) entire life!  

(Pictures: Senior Prom & Scrapbook Pages)










































Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Lemon Ball Success!

Shayla's birthday fundraiser was amazing! She wanted to raise $1800 for her 18th birthday and she actually raised $3,457 - nearly double her goal! Approximately $13,500 has been raised for pediatric cancer research over the past four years by Shayla's Lemon Ball Birthday Parties.

Thanks to everyone for their kindness and generosity to help make it happen. Approximately 150 students from Columbian, Hopewell, Lakota, Carey, Anthony Wayne, BGSU, Heidelberg, Ohio State, Ohio Wesleyn, University of Toledo, Ohio State, Ohio University, Owens and Terra attended the  fundraiser.  May a cure be found soon!















Saturday, February 04, 2017

Fourth and Final Lemon Ball -- Shayla's Fundraiser for Pediatric Cancer Research

A Final Fling:  Shayla asked us if we would rent a space and hire a DJ for her 18th birthday so she could have her fourth and final annual "Lemon Ball" and accept donations for pediatric cancer research instead of receiving birthday presents. We agreed!  In memory of Christi, she hopes to raise $1800 for her 18th birthday!  If you would like to donate, the link to the page she set up is located at: www.alexslemonade.org/mypage/1309203

I will also share a post from my blog in 2007:  One night a few months after Christi died, Shayla asked me if I was going to write a book about our time with Christi. I told her that I had a dissertation to write first and that I felt like I had already written "our story" through my years of blogging. The next morning Shayla said, "If you're not going to write about Christi, I am. Can I get some paper, please?" Here is what Shayla wrote:

Hi! I am Shayla Thomas, age 8. My sis died when I was 7 1/2 in 2006. My sis had a cat and a kitten, but now they are mine. When she died, I felt bad and sad. I will never forget her. I know she is in Heaven and having fun.

"I Will Never Forget"
by Shayla Thomas, Christi's Sister

Dedicated to my cat Buttercup who lost her owner, Christi
Christi was my best friend. We played a lot. We played horses, Pokémon and Cat Monopoly. In the spring, we picked flowers. In the summer, we ran and road bikes and drank lemonade. In the fall, we jumped in leaf piles. In the winter, we made snowmen.

Christi did Alex's Lemonade Stands. They raised money for cancer research for kids. Christi and I took horseback riding lessons. It was fun. She was best friends with Kaylyn and Theresa. She liked to make friendship bracelets.



Friday, December 02, 2016

25 Years Together

Shayla asked if our anniversary day was one of the best five days of my entire life and I had to answer yes!  I sure married a wonderful man!  I will share some pictures BGSU Marketing took of the event/announcement and also the article they wrote to explain what happened.  My deepest thanks to my sweet students and colleagues who came out for the event.  Stepping out of the elevator and seeing that large crowd gathered was heartwarming and overwhelming.  I know I didn't thank everyone, or get to talk with everyone and I apologize for that.  Please accept my deepest thanks and gratitude!

Dr. Angela Falter Thomas ’89 Honored With Student Lounge Dedication

Dr. Angela Falter Thomas’ students are at the heart of everything she does. So it’s only appropriate that a student lounge recently named in her honor is located in the heart of BGSU’s Education Building, where she’s been a faculty member in the middle childhood education and graduate reading programs for the last eight years.

The Angela Falter Thomas, Ph.D. Student Lounge was dedicated thanks to a generous gift from her husband, Shayne Thomas, who wanted to do something very special and unique to honor their 25th wedding anniversary on Nov. 30.

“About a year ago, my husband asked me what gift I would like for our 25th anniversary,” said Falter Thomas, who earned her bachelor’s degree at BGSU and spent 20 years teaching elementary and middle school before returning to her alma mater as a faculty member. “I told him I was so blessed and didn’t need a thing, but the College of Education and Human Development could use the funds.”

Her husband immediately recognized that a named gift was an ideal way to honor her commitment to students.

“I have two loves in my life – my family and my teaching – and I think Shayne’s decision to make a donation to the College of EDHD in honor of me is the most beautiful way to combine both,” Falter Thomas said. “I love our students, and I believe this is a nice way to give back to them and to show we care.”

The commitment to BGSU runs deep in the Falter Thomas family. Daughter Shayla will be enrolling next fall as a freshman.

The Education Building’s first floor student lounge was the perfect location since so many of Falter Thomas’s students spend their time there in between classes. Falter Thomas also remembers what it was like to be a commuter student during her own pursuit of a master’s degree from Heidelberg University and later a Ph.D. from the Ohio State University.

“I hung out in a lot of lounges like that in between classes,” she said. “This gift could not be more perfect.”

Many of her students and colleagues agreed as they gathered at the naming ceremony to show their appreciation for her dedication as an associate professor of education.

“Many of the accomplishments that I have made would not be possible without Dr. Falter Thomas,” said middle childhood education student Amanda Monschein, who will graduate in May. “She pushed me. She motivated me. She was my rock. I was blessed having her as a teacher not once, but twice. Thank you for preparing us to be the best teachers we could be.”

Falter Thomas, who is one of only a handful of teachers in the U.S. to hold two national board certifications, tries hard to model best practices in everything that she does.

“My hope is that when they are new teachers and maybe don’t have the confidence just yet, they can reflect back and think ‘What did Dr. Thomas do?’ and act accordingly,” she said.

That commitment to excellence in the classroom is what propelled Falter Thomas to win the EDHD Excellence in College Teaching Award in 2015, the BGSU CMLA Professor of the Year in 2014 and be named as a finalist for the BGSU Master Teaching Award in 2013.

And now, thanks to her husband’s generous gift, her outstanding legacy as an educator at BGSU will be remembered for many years to come.


“When making our decision to give, Shayne wanted me to take stock on my life, and I kept coming back to the thought that out of everything that I have done or ever experienced, it has been because I have a teaching degree from BGSU that has truly made me happy,” Falter Thomas said. “BGSU prepared me to be a great teacher and to have this amazing career I have. Being a teacher has given me incredible satisfaction, motivation and passion for life.”








Wednesday, November 30, 2016

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, twenty-five years ago today on a windy, but 60 degree day, my parents walked me down the aisle.  Father Ted Miller wore his sandals -- as we asked him to do, and he married Shayne and I in St. Stephen's Catholic Church.  We selected the Saturday after Thanksgiving because it was also when my sister, parents and grandparents had all gotten married.  

How blessed we were to be in a quaint little church, packed with friends, family and even my sweet elementary students.  At 24, I didn't fully understand the tremendous ups and downs we would experience over the next 25 years.  (Our lowest low being the cancer diagnosis and ultimate death of our daughter of which we have yet to recover.  And working so hard, making sacrifices along the way, allowed us to experience the highs of success in our professional lives.)  Through it all, we know God loves us and God is good!  

I will now take it upon myself to give two tips to those getting married today:

1.)  Cherish, adore and love each other.  Accept and deeply love your spouse as they are.  Embrace and celebrate each other, including what you may consider imperfections.  We all have them.

2.)  Marriage is a compromise.  For a strong marriage, keep it first and above all else in your decision making.  What may be best for you, may not be best for your marriage.  Give and take; have an open-mind and a caring heart.


Without a doubt, the biggest gift in my life has been my marriage to the most awesome and fabulous person I know, Shayne Thomas!  This marriage brought us the gifts of two precious children, Christi & Shayla!  Over this past year, we have celebrated our anniversary in some unique and special ways.  Today will be no different.  I will share later.  


Monday, September 19, 2016

Ten Years Ago Today......

Ten years ago this morning, in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Christi exhaled her final breaths as Shayne and I held on to her and told her what an incredible girl she was. While we were thankful that her horrific pain and suffering finally ended, we knew we'd mourn for her the rest of our lives. Nothing that I have – not the beautiful and cherished daughter, nor the beloved and adoring husband, nor my loving family, nor my amazing career, nor the marvelous travel adventures I experience – can ever make the slightest dent in the loss of my daughter. But her loss is the greater. Christi had to endure tremendous pain, constant disappointment, and ultimately she had to leave a remarkable sister, family, friends and teachers; her dreams never to be realized. Her life was taken too soon. I think about her every day and some days - usually holidays and anniversaries, are much worse than others. I often wonder what Christi would be like at 19 and if she really knew how loved, important and treasured she was.
For those of us who wear this invisible badge – the parents of dead children, our grief never ends. Over the past ten years, I've learned each person trudges along his or her own solitary path. The blight of losing a child is different for every person afflicted. I've experienced a wide range of emotions. I still sometimes struggle with sadness and anger, and find myself envious of parents who have healthy children, especially when those children don't appear to be wanted or well-taken care of. I know envy and anger are horrible emotions and ones I never experienced until Christi was diagnosed with cancer, but they still overwhelm me at times and I blink away tears trying to deal with it all. 
And although Shayla has blossomed into the most incredible, intelligent and loving 17-year old gal, she struggles too. Despite her outward appearance and decision to have a positive attitude and sunny disposition, I know things aren’t always bright on her inside. I'm thankful Shayla is still that same beautiful soul with a heart of gold who jumped into my arms, buried her head in my shoulder and sobbed ten years ago tonight after we made the ten hour drive home and told her that Christi didn't pull through this time. My heart breaks that Shayla doesn't have a sibling. Next to Christi suffering the ultimate, Shayla suffers the greatest loss. I find myself trying to shield and protect her from the pain when people talk about doing something with their sister/s, something Shayla will never be permitted to enjoy or grow old with. 
Sadly and shockingly, the survival rate for stage IV neuroblastoma when diagnosed over the age of 36 months, has not improved since Christi was diagnosed 14 years ago this month. It is still a death sentence. Last week Shayla wrote an essay and I will share a part of it: “The reality is over the past thirty years only three new drugs have been approved for use in treating childhood cancers, compared with hundreds of drugs developed for adults. This disparity results from a profound lack of funding. Pediatric cancers receive less than 1% of government funding for the NCI (National Cancer Institute) and in the private sector, pharmaceutical companies have little incentive to develop treatments for children.” Therefore, I write -- If you have a few extra dollars and find it in your heart to give, please consider donating to one of our family's favorite causes for research for pediatric cancers, Alex's Lemonade Stand. 
Ten years ago this morning I gathered Christi's things and made a social worker promise me she would not to leave Christi's lifeless little body until the funeral home workers came for her. Then we cleaned out our room at the Ronald McDonald House, donated Christi’s awesome special stroller, and drove home from Philly. I remember stopping for a bathroom break and we made ourselves buy a sandwich to split knowing we had a lot to do and needed food even though we couldn't imagine ever being hungry again. As I stood and held the door open for people coming out of the fast-food establishment, I remember thinking, "They have no idea my daughter died a couple of hours ago and I'm standing here holding the door for them, trying to smile. This is just crazy." Today, please do a random "Christi Kindness". This was something talked about at her funeral based on the fact that even though Christi was fighting a terminal beast, she would often to do things for the "sick kids" -- taking them art projects, reading them stories, or giving them drawings she made to make them happy. Despite not feeling well, as she often felt, she still wanted others to smile. Let's all try to do a random "Christi Kindness" today in honor of a brilliant little blonde with an infectious smile and laugh, and with whom I hope to reunite with this precious little soul in a much better place one day. May God watch over and bless everyone. Thank you for loving Christi – and all of us!