And What Followed...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Birthdays are blessings

Last week began the celebration of my 35th year. The year that doctors said I probably would never see. It began with a take-off… literally.

Barak took me up in his plane and handed over the controls as we sped down the runway and took off into the sky. We soared above Los Angeles, flying over the Getty Center, past the Hollywood sign, zipping past clouds, sailing beyond the Griffith Observatory, around the downtown skyline, over freeway traffic, along the shoreline, past the Santa Monica Pier and over Mulholland. The big blue sky was all ours. It was the first time I forgot. Forgot about what the doctors' said. Forgot about my limitations. Forgot about the difficulties of the past year. Forgot about hospitals and needles, marrow and mortality.

Completely forgot that I was ever sick.

For the first time in over a year, slicing through sunrays and rushing air, I felt invincible and.... free.

The week followed with a number of tête-à-têtes, tearful hugs and toasts to life. Mark took me to my first Sushi meal in almost a year and I nearly fainted when the sashimi melted in my mouth.

A miracle wish came true on my Birthday weekend. Not many people know this but with Poper's urging, I'm going to share this little intimate story.

My last wish before the transplant was to be in nature. A few girlfriends and I went up to a cabin in the woods. While we were there, we had a picnic along a mountain stream. I sat on a large river stone while we all cried and prayed together. I didn't want to leave. I was afraid to leave. I was afraid of everything that was waiting for me at the bottom of the mountain. I was
afraid of dying. Then suddenly I thought, "Screw this!" and I prayed and made a wish.

I said out loud that I would return someday to the very same spot and put my hand back in the same stream, in good health, with no complications from the transplant, and completely cured of cancer.

This past Sunday, seven months and seven days later, that very wish came true.

I also returned to a giant boulder where 10 months before I had shouted at the top of my lungs. With Barak, we both spread our arms out to the sky and inspired by Whitman, sounded our barbaric yawps over the rooftops.

I am probably one of the only women in the world who is ECSTATIC to turn 35. I say it with a huge smile on my face. And I look forward to celebrating 45, 55, 65, 75… 105.

Birthdays are blessings.

Much Love,
Christine Pechera

P.S. More good news: Marrow is good. Body is getting stronger. Blood counts are steadily moving up.

"May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy." -unknown

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Good news - So long Hickman!

Well, it's official. I got shingles. We caught it early though, so hopefully this pain thing won't last very long. I only have a dozen percosets left anyway. I am not contagious, unless you've never had chicken pox before. All my counts have dropped because of the re-activated virus.

But I do have good news: I've had a hickman catheter in my chest for over six months now. These are the tubes that lead straight into my heart, which the doctors use to administer medicine, transfusions and to draw blood. When you reach a certain level of recovery, it is safe to take the hickman out because it is less likely that you will be needing medicine and
transfusions. A good sign. Plus, I'll be allowed to take hot baths and deep massages again. Yay.

My follow-up appointments for the 22nd have been rescheduled for Wednesday the 24th, the same day as the outpatient surgery to remove the Hickman. I need a ride to City of Hope and back. I will be sedated for the surgery. Pick up is at 8am and estimated return is no later than 2pm. A good time to catch up on calls or a good book. Any takers?

BTW - I've spoken to some of you about planning a big blow-out party on Feb. 3 to celebrate my Birthday (Jan 26) as well as a celebration of life. With this recent bout, however, I'm afraid we will have to postpone until I get my dancing feet back.

much love,

Monday, January 15, 2007

One life at a time

This group and everyone's efforts in the group have inspired so many others. Today I was inspired and reminded of how one person can change the course of the world.

Life is precious. I'm sure everyone in this group is aware of that. But another thing to remember (fudging Marianne Williamson's words) is that we are powerful beyond measure.

Too many of us watch the news and feel helpless about what is going on in the world. My friend, Barak Raviv, felt that way too… at first. But recently after watching more footage of bombings in Israel, he picked up the phone. After donating a substantial sum of his own money, he raised $100,000 to build and stock a brand new intensive-care ambulance for "Magen David Adom" (the Red Cross of Israel). Today was the dedication ceremony. His hope was that by seeing the ambulance, manifested by "a little chutzpah and a lot of initiative" (Barak's words), others may be inspired to make a difference and
do good.

There is an old Jewish saying: If you save one life, you have saved the world.

If that is true then this ambulance will be saving the world, one life at a time.

A reminder that we are not helpless and that life is whatever you choose to manifest.

Much love,

P.S. I return to City of Hope tomorrow for a follow-up visit. And we're going to get to the bottom of this icky pain thing. I PROBABLY have the infamous shingles but we'll find out for sure tomorrow. Percoset is my new favorite drug.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

From JT - Christine suffering from shingles

Just spoke to Christine's Mom and appears C may have the Shingles. It's a very painful adult version of Chicken Pox that attacks the nerves. She has flu-like symptoms without fever. She's only contagious to anyones whose never had chicken pox. If you had chicken pox as a kid and your immune system is good, there's no worrisome for you. Christine's taking big painkiller pills. This bad condition may last several weeks.


From Stephanie I - To Bonnie re: donor drive


Don't be disappointed-35 is a very respectable turn-out. We've been doing many drives all across the country and some have been huge while others have been only 25 or so folks. Just know it's the quality (folks with kind hearts and the courage to actually donate) than quantity.

My son is half filipino/half caucasian and needs a transplant now-thank you so much for anything you can do to get people registered in your area. I joined this group because before I learned of Christine's search, I was sitting next to my son's
hospital bed crying and feeling helpless. That was Thanksgiving week. Since being inspired by Christine, we've signed up over 1000 people. Please don't give up the fight. Christine and others like her deserve the fighting chance at life that a well-matched transplant can give.

All the best,

From Bonnie - Dan's Marrow Drive

I am new even though I have been checking posts for a while Bet you wonder who I am? I heard about Christine from my friend Diane G in Atlanta who is a friend of a friend of Christine's sister Jocelyn. Diane asked me if we could have a drive here in Illinois because of our large Filipino community. I was preparing for a trip to Pascagoula Mississippi with a teen mission group,. so couln't put a lot of time into it. I turned it over to my friend Dan and his family who are Filipino, since I am not.

Dan did a wonderful job but on the day of the drive our pastor let us down with follow up announcements after the masses and I was in tears. We got a small turn out but we did get some! After Dan's hard work it was a dissapointment not to have gotten more. But we were reassured some were better than none and we had tried. I belive we ended up with 35 donors.

But since then I have followed Christine's progress. I feel I know you all and definately love you all. What a loving comunity of
friends Christine has.

I am Bonnnie I am 63 years old so was not able to donate myself I live in Bloomingdale Illinois a suburb of Chicago. I am please to know you all via internet

Prayers always for Christine!!

Love and Hugs

Thursday, January 11, 2007

From Tony C - Prayers needed - Christine back in ER!

Dear Friend's of Christine,

Earlier this afternoon, she had felt some pains in her chest area and began vomiting. The paramedics whisked her away to the emergency room at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica. They gave her some painkillers and took some x-rays to determine whether her condition was any of the following: cardiac, abdominal, or esophageal.

So far nothing yet. I just visited Christine this evening and she was very calm and rested. She wanted me to update you all with this bit of news and asks for your prayers again. She'll be under observation by the hospital while they try to determine the cause of her pain. More updates when I find out more.

Best wishes to you all,

Tony C.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Happy New Year - "True Story" poem

It's late Tuesday night, January 2, 2007.

!!! *2007* !!!

Another milestone hit. 180 days post-transplant. This was the calendar point which marked the "less than 50% chance" of seeing this day.

After 15 days in room 5105 at City of Hope, I will walk out on my own two feet tomorrow to return home once again. I guess I've been in denial of my own condition and this last episode has taught me that I have no choice but to take it easy and not thrust myself back into the big world too soon. Mantra for the next few months: Time, patience, care and gratitude.

Christmas and New Year's in the hospital isn't so bad when you can still feel the love around you. Being in the hospital magnifies the meaning of the Eve. What normally is a warm fuzzy feeling inside, crucibles into a white-hot bonfire and you grasp your heart for fear that it will burst pyroclastic in every direction, including inward; an implosion of passion and grace in dreams of Holiday glitter.

Being in the hospital this time, I've learned in a somber way how fortunate I am to be alive. Since being here I've discovered more patients I befriended in the Fall never got the chance to fight because they never found a donor. And next door to my room, I am trying to help a young woman who is in the same exact position I was one year ago. No donor. No hope. Under heavy chemo and given only months to live. Her husband is praying that she will see next New Year's Day.

On the wise suggestion of a dear friend, instead of New Year's Resolutions, I am writing ALL that I am thankful for this past year and the list is still growing. And through the excitement of a few loving souls, I am writing all that I plan to do with this 2nd 2nd chance at life. I think it's a cool exercise for anyone to try.

I hope everyone's holidays brought joy and peace. And the chance to love another, and to be with those who mean the world to you.


True Story

On the first day of the year I learned how to fly.
And I learned how to play again.
On the first day of the year I held hands with a friend in need
And then ate ice cream by the bucketful.
On the first day of the year I held another soul close to mine
And dreamt of far away towns and unseen backyard gardens
And then laughed until I snorted.

On the first day of the year I woke up with tears cooling the corners of my eyes
Remembering. Letting Go. And glistening for the future.

On the first day of the year I reflected
on a most terrible and most miraculous time
And I saw all the ones I loved shining in the big luscious sky
Sighing, kicking, bursting, soaring, and singing

This year
Her arms are wide open
Her breaths are deep
And the miracles are just beginning

Much love,


"The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it."
-William James (1842-1910)