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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Tuesday, September 29, 2009


(Pic: My newly decorated office door - from "Upper Case Living")

BGSU needed a few more "university mentors" to help with observing and supervising some of their students' in the schools. Since my fall schedule is so light, I volunteered. When I received my assignment a few weeks ago I was shocked by the first name on my paper - "Christi" although not spelled the same way, but very, very close. Today I went to the school for the first time and it was "freaky" - the school is awesome what was freaky was meeting my student, the one with the same name as our daughter. She has blonde hair, blue eyes and is tall and thin. Wild! I could only think Christi would have it no other way - the very first student teacher mommy gets to supervise is named CHRISTI! I can hear Christi's little giggle right now, oh how I miss that giggle! I wonder what she would have grown up to be if only we could have killed the evil beast before it killed her.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Celebration

I was still pretty giddy on Saturday afternoon for the OSU game as I enjoyed the first of many celebrations I will have, smile.

Once the game started, the rain poured. At halftime I told Shayne, "We have season tickets. We'll be back. I'm soaked, let's go." We went to a used clothing store just off of campus and bought new outfits and watched the rest of the game from the warmth of a restaurant. We figured since it was the only game we'd ever had poor weather at it wasn't a big deal. Shayne kept teasing me, "Is this raining on your parade?" Hee hee!
With Josh who also performed at the Cincinnati Bengals game on Sunday, cool!
With Nate, from Tiffin! Go, Bucks!

Sweet Shayla made us breakfast in bed on Sunday: yogurt, fruit and oatmeal parfait cups and warm pepperoni slices. "I couldn't find the bacon and thought that was close enough." It was awesome! So sweet!

I hope you and yours have a wonderful and blessed week! I'm off to take those sweet 'Berg students some doughnuts and juice!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Christi Thomas Memorial Lemonade Stand at Heidelberg

FROM THIS MORNING's ADVERTISER-TRIBUNE NEWSPAPER: Shayla Thomas, 10, pours lemonade Friday morning during the Christi Thomas Memorial Lemonade Stand at Heidelberg University. Christi, Shayla's older sister, died three years ago at the age of 9 after a four-year fight with neuroblastoma. Shayla also read "Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand" during the event, which raised money for pediatric cancer research. To view more photos from this event, log on to (I love how Jill also captured "Boo" - a Christi fan on the left & "Dr. Lori" on the right)

Sweet Dr. Lori! At the same time I was defending my dissertation, Lori and her students were hard at work. I love this picture; it reminds me so much of the one of Christi & Lori taken years ago. (The one above is nearly identical to one that was captured of Christi as well - wild!)
I didn't know Shayla read to the college kids outside until I saw Jill's pictures. I noticed she read right in front of her sister's "stone". Very sweet!

I texted with Liz Scott, Alex's mom, a few times on Friday. I think Alex would be so proud of all her family has continued to do with Alex's Lemonade Stand - raising $$ for pediatric cancer research, one cup at a time. This picture was taken in New Jersey, where our incredibly sweet Philly friends hosted their annual Lemonade Stand, sweet, sweet, sweet! THANKS, Grants!!! We love you!!!

Seeing these pictures reminds me of how much Christi enjoyed these special fundraisers Dr. Lori and Heidelberg allowed her to be a part of. There are amazing people there! THANKS, everyone!
Our deepest "Thomas Team thanks" to all of these sweet volunteers!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Is there a doctor in the house?

YES! YES! Yes, there is - ME.....Dr. Thomas!!!! I could NOT have passed without the help of so many. THANK YOU! The incredibly sweet, kind and thoughtful emails sent and comments posted here on Christi's blog gave me a ton of inspiration. Thank you for lifting me up in prayer and for shaking your pom poms! During the intense dissertation defense this afternoon I kept telling myself, "Christi's whispering the answers in my ear (That little stinker was so smart) and Christi's fans are in this room so just have a conversation with them and don't think of this as an evaluation by these intimidating looking professors."

Prior to my 1PM defense, I took one of my former 8th grade students to lunch. When I switched to middle school, he was a student I just hit it off with and we kept in touch. Last night he sent me a text, "Call me when you get to campus." I told him I'd be really nervous and not my usual cheery self, but I wanted to see him and how he was adjusting to Ohio State. (He's doing GREAT! He's one of just 33 freshman in the incredible Ohio State University marching band! What a talented and amazing young man, he will do great things!)

After lunch, we strolled campus a bit and took in a mini-pep rally for tomorrow's game. (Of course I told Josh I thought the university spirit was to wish me goodluck or maybe they were starting to celebrate my successful defense early - hee hee!)

I believe my defense was meant to be a useful exercise, but at times it seemed like a form of hazing. After the two hour "interrogation" (smile, breathe), a white piece of paper with the committee's signatures on it was probably (next to the girls' birth certificates) the most beautiful piece of paper I have ever seen. THANK YOU, dear Lord!

I couldn't even answer about three of their questions based on my reivew of the literature, but really everything else I was really well prepared for and I thought it appeared I "had my act together" even though I was questioning myself.

One of the emails I received, from a sweet MSKCC volunteer who read to Christi many times in the hospital in NYC, said: HE hasn’t let you come this far not to succeed. I kept thinking of that on my two hour drive to Columbus this morning while praying for God to give me the gift of intelligence and a sense of peace that I could not obtain without His divine intervention.

And I had to laugh at what my sweet Heidelberg University friend (Dr. Lori) wrote:

What does PhD really stand for?
Pretty Huge Dope
Pretty Huge Deal
Party Hard – Duh! (That’s afterward!)
Port-potties have diseases!
Pronounce it “FUDD!”

I always thought it meant just "Piled Higher and Deeper" (since I find I really rely on my BS degree more than anything else, hee hee) Oh, what a glorious feeling!

I've notified BGSU of my official completion and it's great to know I can now finish serving this three year contract with the rank of Assistant Professor and not just Instructor, and my salary will be adjusted accordingly, whew! (It's still a pay cut from what I was making as a teacher at Seneca East, but I am soooooooo happy at BGSU!) The Dean of the College of Education at BGSU sent me a text saying she'd congratulate me in person on Monday. (Oh, guess I better show up on Monday, eh?! hee hee! Seriously I was planning to take doughnuts to Dr. Grine's sweet students who hosted the lemonade stand today, but.....looks like I'll do both now.)

God is good! I am blessed! Thank you everyone! I'm certain "in the shoe" tomorrow at the football game I will be the Buckeye's biggest fan there!

(As you can see from the picture of my office of my diplomas hanging above my desk, there's just one missing! It'll be in my hands soon! I'm in such a giddy mood I had to add labels to them. This last one doesn't go with my "color scheme", but it's definitely the one I worked the hardest for! Praise God, I'm done!!)

So now it appears I no longer have an excuse for putting off ordering Christi's cemetery plaque (other than I do not want to). Who, other than my mother - hee hee would want to do that for their kid?!)

Now on to something important - raising $$$ for pediatric cancer research. I've yet to see any pictures; however, Dr. Grine emailed today to tell me over $600 was raised. WOW! That is impressive! Thank you, Heidelberg University!!

I greeted Shayla at the door with my cap on. (Do you think she thinks I wore it the whole way home? OK, ok, I thought about it - and trust me since I paid $897.00 for my robe I should have, smile!) She decorated the living room for me "Congratulations Mom" - precious! (I noticed in this picture how well Christi's artwork she created weeks before she died shows up in this picture too. I'm telling myself it's Christi's way of letting me know she knows I passed.)

When my sweet friend, Becky, texted, "How are you going to celebrate tonight?" I told her I was doing lesson planning. She didn't believe me at first, but that's what I need to do now. Good thing I really enjoy it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Final Hurdle

Many have asked me recently if I have completed my Ph.D., the answer is a big NO, but I wanted to share here the program requirements, if only to remind myself of how far I've come and that I will hopefully (on Friday) be “Dr. Thomas” and done with my Ph.D. journey.

There is a lot on the line. My job at BGSU is contingent upon it, not to mention the fact I’ve invested nearly six years of studies and about $40,000 into this degree. The other day I finally got paid. (At BGSU we get 9 paychecks a year.) Shayne said with a smile, “Your degree was really expensive, but now it’s all worth it. For a while it was all money out. Now that there is money coming in, I’m fine with it.”

Keep in mind I only started this degree (I applied in the fall of 2003 from the Ronald McDonald House) because I was incredibly fearful that I would lose my job due to caring for Christi. I thought a Ph.D. in Education would allow me to do something else in the field of education. I knew with nearly 20 years of experience I would be too expensive for a school district to ever hire me. I have two loves in my life - my family and my teaching. I knew I didn't have any control over what happened to Christi's life, but I would try my hardest not to be without teaching, which I also love. Thankfully, with the dear Lord above, I did not lose my job.

When Christi died, I was in the midst of my residency and I felt I had invested too much to drop out. I thought Christi would want me to finish, and so I think I am about to do just that. When I go to Columbus to defend my dissertation on Friday I will wear a special angel pin on my shirt in her memory and use her American Girl shower gel in the shower that morning. I’ve been saving it for something special – I guess this is it!

Ph.D. Program at Ohio State:
Take GRE - CHECK! (Fall 2003)
Apply to OSU's Graduate School - CHECK! (Fall 2003)
Interview with OSU for Acceptance - CHECK! (Fall 2003)
Begin taking 700, 800 & 900 level courses - CHECK! (Winter 2004)
Complete Residency Requirement - Three Consecutive Full-Time Quarters. (I actually took six full time quarters, but.....) (CHECK!) Spring 2007
Complete 150 Hours of Coursework - CHECK! (Winter 2004 - Spring 2008. I only took one quarter off. I am so glad that I am no longer making the four hour round trips to Columbus!!)
Pass Candidacy Exams (become PHD – ABD “all but dissertation”) CHECK! (August 2008)
Submit research proposal to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for approval CHECK! (December 2008)
Conduct my dissertation research CHECK! (December – May 2009)
Write my final two chapters CHECK! (June-August 2009)
Pass defense of my dissertation………..(2 hour oral exam set for Sept. 25, 2009) After that two hour exam, I will be dismissed while the committee meets to discuss my work and to vote in private. It's going to seem like a horrifically long wait, but hopefully when they call for me to come in I will be greeted with, "Congratulations, Dr. Thomas!" (Fingers Crossed)
Graduation (set for December 2009)

A bit has changed since my doctoral candidacy exams on August 19th of 2008. One of the committee members had a baby, another one I replaced with a new professor and what will be different about my dissertation committee vs. my candidacy exam committee is the addition of a "wild card". This is a professor assigned, as a full voting member, from outside of the college of education. It is to ensure that the exam is rigorous and that the work contains "high scholarly merit". (Yikes!) When I read his list of credentials, his list of publications and the impressive schools he has been educated at, I assumed I was doomed. I have been praying about it and I am feeling better. However, I do not pass unless all five vote "pass". If any one of the five members votes no, I'm done. (I've joked to my BG students, "On Monday I will either be bringing you candy Buckeyes for a quick celebration, or you'll never see me again because my body will be found on High Street.")

I am proud to be at a Research I Institution (There are only two in the state of Ohio - OSU and UC); however, there are times when I've wondered why I didn't just get a Ed.D. or an on-line degree instead. I would have been done years ago. The title "Dr." goes with both degrees. Then I remind myself that I selected the most challenging and rigorous program for good reason – and it was actually with GREAT reason. I would not have gotten the job at BGSU without a PhD. My job at BG has been even better than I ever dreamed it would be. I’m truly blessed. Now I "just" have to pass my dissertation defense on Friday in order to keep it. (No stress there, cough.)

From what my colleagues have told me, it will be a long and arduous process that I must be prepared to defend, debate, conceptualize, synthesize, and explain my research in great detail. I need to present the arguments of my document and respond to their questions. They will push me until I cannot answer any more questions with the purpose being to judge the depth of my knowledge. I need to demonstrate my control over the discipline and theoretical arguments, but also be able to counter argue and offer alternative interpretations that may come up in their two hours of questioning. I've been preparing for weeks, but I don't know if it's good enough. I hope my journey will end on Friday on a high note. I can't even think of all of the hours I spent away from Christi & Shayla (and Shayne) working for this, if I will not end with my doctorate degree, yet I know that could happen if I mess this up.

Times are tense; prayers are appreciated! I need a sense of calm that I cannot get without His intervention. I'll be back in touch just as soon as I can. (Hopefully, with a posting by "Dr. Thomas".) THANK YOU!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Olivia's Race

From our sweet friend, Olivia:

Dear Friends,

(PIC: Christi helping at one of the Red Cross Blood Drives she hosted.) Christi had a way of bringing sunshine into everything-- from lemonade stands, to schoolwork, to chemo. Life gave her some pretty rotten lemons and she made the sweetest lemonade.

Christi is especially on my mind when I run. When the alarm goes off at 4:40am, I think of her and I remember her words (""Determination is what keeps you going. It's like a best friend." Said by Christi, age 7). And I find whatever determination I can muster at 4:40am and get my morning run going. She's the best friend running beside me when I want to stop and the one helping me up when I trip over myself and fall. I'm in good company at 4:40am.

(PIC: Christi with dad and grandpa)My second challenge is to ask you for a donation (of any amount) to our cause ( And whatever amount that you give, if anything at all, just know that in giving you are sharing Christi's spirit with others. The funds go to dance scholarships and academic scholarships and care packages for other children struggling with cancer. The arts, academics, helping those in need-- even though she was only 9, I can say without hesitation that these were Christi's passions. Her passion deserves to live on, even if her body could not. Know that in contributing to these causes, you're giving a piece of Christi to someone else. Someone who may never have even known her. And in sharing her spirit in this way, she lives on. We still miss her, but this is a comfort, a vital comfort.


(Christi, May 2003 - just turned six!) Our deepest thanks to sweet Olivia for doing this race again in Christi's memory and to raise money for Kids Cancer Crusade and the Christi Thomas Memorial Fund. (The money will be split between the two organizations.) Christi had so much in common with Olivia - a love of books, a desire to help others and challenges with health. (Quite frankly it's nothing short of amazing that Olivia can walk, much less jog like she will be doing in this 10K with everything she's been through.) I know times are terribly tough right now, but if you can give and want to, please consider doing so. The link is:

Many thanks,

Monday, September 21, 2009

Christi & Alex's Annual Lemonade Stand - at the Berg

The sweet Early Childhood Department at Heidelberg University is doing it again. Unbelievable! On Friday, they will hold their annual Christi & Alex's Lemonade Stand to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Shayla will be reading "Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand" to an early childhood class and then helping the students with their fundraiser. Thank you so much to Heidelberg, Dr. Grine and her students!

If you can stop by, please do so. Shayla would love to chat with you!

Friday, September 25th (11am - 1pm) in the lawn (by Christi's "tree" with the yellow ribbon on it) in front of the Education Building on Greenfield Street.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

September 19th

To all who were so kind to lift us up in prayer and / or who emailed or posted comments, please know how very much we appreciate your kind words. You gave us great comfort this weekend, as always.

Many thanks,
the Thomas team

My "freaky" moment of the weekend was when I sat on a bale of straw to watch Shayla play some of the many kids' games the festival committee sets up for the children. Christi loved that area. While watching the kids, a little blond girl came over to me. SHE WAS WEARING ONE OF CHRISTI'S SHIRT! Christi picked it out in Columbus when she was 8. After Shayla outgrew it. I donated it. It was so freaky! I felt like it was God's way of letting me know that Christi was with us right then. I whispered to Shayne, "I KNOW that is Christi's old shirt." Wild, oh, so wild to have experienced that on September 19th.

(PIC: Christi at the Heritage Festival, age 8, nearly one year and three days before her death) Saturday morning, Shayla came down and saw me sitting and crying. She climbed up on my lap and asked what was wrong. I told her that Christi died three years ago this morning. She hugged me, cried with me and said, "We all miss Christi, mom." Then she added, "Remember that day when we decided we'd spend the entire day together playing in my room? Remember bringing us up grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch so we could try to stay there the whole day?" I remembered the event, but not the lunch menu. I told her how very much Christi loved her, even if she didn't want her playing in her room. She said, "I get that now. I wouldn't one someone really little coming in my bedroom and messing it all up either. I really liked it when Christi came in my room to play with me."

Princess Shayla and the Cute Princess Runner Ups. They enjoyed the parade. She thought it was neat they got to go right after the Mayor of Tiffin and then were able to watch the rest of the parade when they were finished. I kept looking at "Tiffin's Finest" and remembering Christi's funeral procession where they stood at the sharpest "attention", I'd ever seen, made me blink away tears.
Shay was so happy to see Casey (They were in the Music Man at the Ritz together in May). He restored this awesome bike, rode it in the parade and let her sit on it. So sweet! Just in case you are curious, Shayla said the seat was just leather - that's it - and that it was not comfortable at all. Guess I won't run out and buy one, hee hee!
With the Honorable State Representative Jeff Wagner and his beautiful family. (Carla fixed the three rips Shay had put in her dress at the wedding so that she was ready for the pageant. She's a sweetie, made all their outfits here too, amazing!)
Shayla enjoyed judging the "Frog Jumping Contest". Here she is with the winner. Isn't he cute?! (The boy, not the frog, hee hee!)


It was so very nice to run into two of Christi's great friends at the festival. Since I'm no longer their teacher, I'd not seen them since late July. I was so happy to see their beautiful faces. I will always treasure the love, friendship and special treatment they always gave Christi.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

May 12, 1997 - September 19, 2006

Baby, Take Your BowBy: Chris Rice

We're gonna miss your song and dance
The way you made us laugh
And we're so glad we had
The pleasure for a while
But on the other side
You'll find a better audience
Just be yourself,
And you can't help but make
The angels smile

Baby all the world's a stage
Playwright pens your final page
And then
He brings your curtain down
So blows us your kisses
And drench our eyes
We'll rise to our feet to wave goodbye
For now
So baby take your bow

The world is lovelier
Because you had your moment here
And we could see a friend
Of heaven in your face
And in your song we heard
The longing for a distant shore
And now your time has come
To go and so be on your way

(Chorus) The show is over now
It's time to lay your burdens down
So baby take...
Your bow

Sweet Christi, Three years ago this morning you made your heavenly debut back into God's great kingdom. I hope you have a glorious day celebrating the anniversary of your arrival Home. You now dance on a stage far more glorious than we can even possibly imagine. You will forever be missed by your family! We love you so much!

Until we see you and hold you again, remember we love you and please keep watching over us and all of those who took such a fondness to you. We all need help and guidance. Please pray for us!

Mommy, Daddy & Shayla

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shayla to the Rescue

She's done it again; she's saved us! Thank God for Shayla. We really don't deserve her!

A few weeks ago, Shayla brought home a paper from school about the Heritage Festival Royalty Pageant and she asked if she could enter. I said, “Sure, if you want to.” (And I thought to myself, “She can get another use out of her Jr. Bridesmaid’s dress from Tiffany’s wedding. Yahoo!")

Just as the bile has been rising in my stomach every time I hear or realize September 19th is such a short time away, Shayla has given us a wonderful distraction. I’d been dreading September 19th; now we actually have something to look forward to this year on September 19th - Shay Shay will be in her first parade. Thank God for Shay Shay! She’s amazing to us. It's like she's once again come to our rescue!

It was incredibly nice to have so many family and friends there with us, cheering for Shayla. We are blessed!

And thanks to my beautiful friend, Jill, I actually have pictures to share! Can you believe me - the Kodak Mom - left her camera card at home - yikes! Jill had me covered, whew!

Shay was quite nervous at practice on Tuesday evening, and I didn’t think she’d do very well; however, all that seemed to just melt away last night as she competed. Last night it looked like she was really enjoying it all. When I finished reading to her before bed on Tuesday she said, "I didn't know entering this was going to be so much about modeling. I thought I'd be interviewing with the judges; I like talking with people. I don't like modeling." By Wednesday night, she was feeling much better.

The MC read: Shayla is in the 5th grade and her favorite color is sky blue. When she grows up she wants to be an actress with a side job as a writer. Her favorite food is sushi and she has two cats – Buttercup & Buckeye.

Shayla’s “speech” Hi! I’m Shayla Thomas and I’m really looking forward to the Heritage Festival this weekend; it’s one of my favorite events of the year. I also enjoy being busy. After school I’m a dancer, a horseback rider and an ice skater. I’ve never been in a pageant before and so far I’ve learned a lot. Thank you!

So thanks to God blessing Shayla, September 19th 2009 will be much better than September 19, 2006 – the day our precious Christi was called Home. September 19, 2009 will be the first time Shayla’s ever been in a parade. They told her she’ll be “riding in style” in a car. She’s looking forward to the weekend and she realizes she has a lot of thank you notes to write for all of the “goodies” she received last night. When they told the girls last night they needed to go to at least three festivals to represent and prmote our Heritage Festival, she thought that sounded like fun.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation (CNCF)

Thank you to all who were able to donate at Eric (Webby's) request to the Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation (CNCF). We all really appreciate your help and thoughtfulness! A cure must be found soon!

The wonderful "Webby" and Shayne completed in their first Olympic distance triathlon early this morning. Those men completely amaze me! They were up at 5:30, eating oatmeal and in 54 degree weather preparing to go swim (brrrrr), bike and run.
Shayne's ready for the whistle to blow, signaling the start of the triathlon.
Go, Eric! There were hundreds of competitors. I'm anxious to see Eric's bike time because he was amazing! What a racer!

Shayla was really into cheering her dad on! She even joined him at the end of the triathlon and ran to the finish line holding his hand.

We had a wonderful weekend with our dear friends, Eric & Alicia, and enjoyed our camper over near Akron (Portage Lakes) this weekend. The weather was gorgeous and we are very blessed!