And What Followed...

Friday, February 20, 2015

I set this blog aside for a few years because...

I set this blog aside for a few years because I was pursuing an MFA at Pepperdine and at the same time, fell in love and married my wonderful husband. There was a part of me that wanted to leave the label "cancer patient" behind: to sever the painful experience from my memory and walk forward as if nothing happened. But I've learned you gain nothing and lose a part of yourself by trying to pretend nothing difficult or traumatic ever happened to you. It is through life's uncertain and dark moments that we forge our strength.

Each one of us has struggled or is struggling at some level. It is what makes us human, and gives us the ability to be emphatic and compassionate for others. Pretending we are "doing awesome" and living a "totally epic" life are just shimmering walls we erect to hide our true need to love and be loved. I can't tell you how many times I've met with a friend whose Facebook page gleams with party pics and envious moments; but whose real life is shattered, and self-worth in the gutter. We'd rather pretend to be happy that actually do the relationship work that gives us lasting happiness.

So after a long absence, I return but with a different purpose. Though I will continue to post about the heroics of marrow donors and patients, this blog will also include life through the eyes of someone who has had many moments with death, many conversations with God, and many shared magical moments with others who understand that life is beautiful, all of it: the pain, the joy, the exuberance, the grieving, the failures and the victories. Life is multi-faceted. Living all these moments is what makes life full and balanced.

So next time you're on social media, look deep into all those gleaming, smiling photos, and know that you are only seeing a very small rose-colored side of that person's multi-faceted life. Know that a photo only captures a fleeting moment, and a fleeting moment is not reality.

Go forward and Love more.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pepperdine University - Relay for Life!

Please excuse this selfless self promotion but it's all for a very good cause.

As most of you know all too well, I'm very lucky to be alive having survived cancer along with two very risky bone marrow transplants. Now that I have regained my life and my health, part of my mission is to help others who are newly diagnosed and struggling to survive. I feel very fortunate to be in a place where I can give back.

On Friday April 16, Pepperdine University will hold its Second Annual Relay for Life. I'm assembling my team this week and have until Friday to sign up at least 10 team members! It only costs $5 to register and though there is a "recommended" goal to raise $100 when you join the team, there is no pressure from me to raise any more than what you can or want to, but if you feel moved, go for the gold! Remember YOU are fighting cancer!

Relay for Life truly is an inspiring experience. And it's TONS of fun! For my older peeps, re-live your college days ala HotTub Time Machine! Plus, I may be speaking at the event, and will be honored as a survivor during the first lap!

If you feel weird about joining the team, then by all means make that known by making a donation or purchasing a luminaria in honor or in remembrance of a loved one.

Even if you cannot physically attend the event, it'd be nice to know who can support the team and be there in spirit...

Five dollars here and ten dollars there can add up to a whole lotta good. Sort of like in the way the tab adds up at Costco...

Everything can be accessed HERE.

I know we are all VERY busy and overwhelmed with our own lives, but please consider giving just an eensy-weensy piece of your time, even if it's just taking a few seconds to donate a few dollars online, to help another someone who has greater challenges than those of us lucky enough to have our health...

Thanks for indulging me...


p.s. Please feel free pass this on...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pepperdine MFA Screenwriting

Often when one overcomes cancer, one closely examines their life, and life in general. After examining mine, this is how I plan to move forward:

Three years ago, there were nights where I wasn't sure if I would make it to the next day. Today, thanks to my doctors, and the prayers of family and friends, I look forward to my future.

There is always hope.


Friday, September 11, 2009

I am THRILLED to announce that I've been selected as one of this year's Perpetual Scholarship recipients by "CANCER FOR COLLEGE." Yay! :)

I will be speaking at this year's annual fundraiser event next Friday, September 18. Will Ferrell will present the awards. It's a great honor.
Please come and share this very special night and support a great cause!

Information can be found at the website here:

For those who would like to come but are on a tight budget, I can get a 50% "friends & family discount".

If you cannot attend, please show your support by purchasing some Will Ferrell sunscreen off the website! It's hilarious!

Sorry to keep this so short but I've got a lot of schoolwork to catch up on! Aaah!

Blessings and Hugs,

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Remember Michelle

I am very sad to relay the news that Michelle Maykin passed away last week. She was an incredible girl and an enormous inspiration for so many. Despite her struggle, she truly remained positive and and loved life til the very end.

Please remember her and her beautiful spirit by signing up on the marrow registry. And today, try to hug, forgive or love someone just a little bit more than you usually would... for Michelle.

With sadness and love,



This message from Glenn Agustin from A3M:
It is with deep sadness that I'm telling you about Michelle Maykin's passing last Friday. Diagnosed in February 2007, Michelle and the efforts of Project Michelle has since registered close to 20,000 people! Their novel efforts of outreaching via various forms of media awarded Project Michelle the NMDP's Excellence in New Media Award in 2008. Michelle's positive spirit and superhuman strength has touched and will continue to inspire the lives of patients, the NMDP staff, and strangers all over the world. Please keep Michelle and her family and friends in your thoughts and intentions.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Stacie Tamaki

I'm reposting this from Stacie Tamaki's entry on Tami's Blog. I was so moved by what she wrote, that I wanted to share. Please keep spreading the word.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Graham is Gone and Michelle's Prognosis: 4-6 Weeks

I share the news of Graham and Michelle with you not to make you sad, but to make you mad. Mad that neither were ever able to find a marrow match. Mad because Leukemia is a treatable disease and yet people die from it each day simply because there aren't enough people who have joined the National Marrow Registry, not just here in the U.S. but in Asia and Worldwide. Please don't forget people like Graham and Michelle... People who have suffered through so much illness, pain and recovery only to finally be told that there is no hope for them.

Graham Barnell and His Family May 2009

For the second time this week I spent the wee hours of the morning in tears. Several nights ago I learned that Graham Barnell, husband, father and Leukemia patient, had passed away. I met Graham through his Facebook Group after he first joined Tami's FB Group. I was one of many of his online friends who received a message at 2:49 a.m. on July 2nd breaking the sad news that he had "Passed away peacefully, surrounded by family and friends."

And early this morning I read Michelle Maykin's blog only to learn that she is almost out of time.

Last Monday she posted a post titled: How do you know when to stop fighting? Due to Tami's transplant taking place on Tuesday I hadn't made the time to check on Michelle the way I normally do so I was stunned. I literally felt my heart sink as my body began to tremble right before the tears came as I read that even with one medicine that is safe for her to take to slow her cancer, last week her doctor estimated that she has 4-6 weeks left.

Except for her loss of hair, she doesn't even look sick.

Western medicine has nothing left to offer Michelle when it comes to a cure. Her Leukemia has proven to be chemo resistant and no marrow match has been located. There are no treatments left whose benefits and possible effectiveness outweigh the terrible and possibly fatal side effects they may create. Both she and her husband Van were crushed. But despite being completely aware of the odds, Michelle is still not giving up. She is turning to Eastern remedies: herbal medicine, practicing Qi/Chi Gong, and sticking to certain dietary restrictions as her "last fight."

If Eastern medicine can result in major improvement or another remission and a marrow match is found NOW Michelle could still have a chance at not 4 to 6 weeks of life but 4 to 6 DECADES! She is only 27 years old :(

I love this picture of Michelle and Marshawn

Both Michelle and Graham participated in a clinical trial receiving double cord blood transplants at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center using the stem cells found in infant's umbilical cords. Cords used to be disposed of after a delivery but now we know that there are many reasons to save this stem cell rich blood source. Michelle's remission was about 5 months before she relapsed this spring. Graham suffered through and survived the most severe type of Graft vs. Host Disease and was then stricken with a terrible and persistent fungal infection only to succumb to a chest infection.

If either had found a 10/10 adult stem cell match their odds would have been better. A cord blood transplant is not an ideal match. But when no adult match has been found and the patient is out of time, it buys them some time. Imagine if during Michelle's remission a match had been located and she was able to receive a transplant by now.

Just last month Michelle's friends threw her a cancer "intervention" inspired by a particular episode of the TV Show How I Met Your Mother.

I post this because even though Tami received her 10/10 marrow match and transplant I feel the need to remind everyone that most patients do not. Most patients lose their battle when their 27 or 39 or 44. Many leave behind young children and husbands and wives, grieving parents and heart broken friends.

Statistically the odds are that only 30% of patients in need will find a marrow match and receive a life saving transplant. That means 70% of people won't find one and will die.

But that's something we can all help to change. Please continue to spread the word about all you've seen Tami go through and all you've learned here on her blog and website. Please tell people about Tami's website so they can learn more too. Please don't step back now that Tami's need has been met. We really need everyone to help us spread the word so that others who still have some time left, others like Michelle who need and deserve a miracle, can be saved.

If you want to send Michelle a message of support you can do so on her BLOG by leaving a comment on one of her posts.

Posted by Stacie (Tami's cousin)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Malibu Times

Earlier this week, Bridget Graham of the Malibu Times interviewed me for an article to help promote the marrow drives on the Pepperdine Campus this weekend. The drives are in honor of Robert Corrales, a beloved Alumnus who is fighting Leukemia and in need of a marrow match.

I picked up the paper last night and to my surprise, the article was the Featured Story of the "MALIBU LIFE" section! The wonderful news, really, is that I hope that the article brings more people to the marrow drives, thus more potential donors onto the registry! Here is the online version of the article if you would like more information on this weekend's marrow drives.

Yesterday, we held the first drive of this week during the game versus USC. Having gone to USC as an undergrad, I found myself torn between two loyalties, but in the end the game was about good sportsmanship and good baseball. Both SC and Pepperdine folks were signing up. When it comes to saving lives, teamwork knows no boundaries.

Before the game, I had the honor to speak in front of the stadium crowd. Despite an amusing start with a faulty mic, I was thrilled to be on the field. It is somewhat surreal to hear your voice echoing in the sky, with the Pacific churning in the background behind you, talking about how you almost died, if not for one hero.

Here are some of the volunteers and organizers of the marrow drives at Pepperdine. (From L to R) Tiara Dole, Toni Nocita, Brian Watson, Heather Collart, and Janet Slightam. And thanks also to Andre Fontenelle, cameraman extraordinaire, who came to document the event!

By the way, Pepperdine won 8-5 thanks to a rally in the eigth-inning that took off with a homer by Nate Johnson.

Pepperdine University, Malibu Campus Marrow Drives:
Friday, April 17 - 2pm to 5pm at the Eddy D. Field Baseball Stadium
Saturday, April 18 - 12pm to 3pm at the Eddy D. Field Baseball Stadium

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Pepperdine University will host marrow drives April 15th, 17th and 18th, in an effort to find a donor match for beloved alumnus Robert Corrales. This PSA was created in an effort to promote the drives on campus. It's my story, but I hope someday Robert will be able to share the same miracle with our community. Please help us spread the word!

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Grateful Bridesmaid

A little over two years and a half years ago, when I was in the hospital and the future was still uncertain, my friend Beth turned to me and said "You can't die now because someday you have to be a bridesmaid in my wedding!" Beth, at that time, was not engaged to anyone. I, at that time, had less than a 10% chance of getting out of the hospital alive.
Last year, Beth did indeed get engaged to a wonderful guy named David. And at the same time, I got the "all clear" in my scans.

Last weekend, my friend BJ and I drove up to northern California for the wedding. The celebration took place in Tiburon, just north of San Francisco.

BJ, Beth and I go all the way back to college and have many fun memories working together at Roger Corman's Concorde Pictures. Beth has the unique talent of being beautiful, witty, sophisticated yet blunt at the same time. She was the friend I turned to when I needed "tough love."
The secret miracle Beth and I shared was that I was alive to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. No small feat.

Tom, Beth's brother and groomsman, was my escort. Sabrina and her Dad, Mike, were also there. Small world. If you recall, Sabrina was my mentee in the Young Storytellers program!

It was a lovely evening at the yacht club and I felt so thankful to be there for Beth and to celebrate her new life with this incredible guy she had found.

Life is unpredictable but wishes do come true.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Angels of Hope 2008

Last night I had the pleasure of rejoining my friends at Angels of Hope to raise funds for City of Hope. The last two years I had the honor of being the main speaker at their annual dinner. This year, I got a break and came as a special guest. Tim Scully (left) is also a marrow transplant survivor and remains a staunch advocate for cancer patients.

Angels of Hope is based out of Rancho Palos Verdes and many of its generous members have contributed tremendously to City of Hope's research and treatment in the fight against cancer.

My friend Andy and I got a chance to experience some close-up magic during the silent auction before sitting down to a fine dinner of salmon and filet mignon. Despite the state of the economy, the members were as giving as ever at this year's fundraiser.

It is groups like Angels of Hope that make a profound difference in the world. Contributions to non-profits such as City of Hope benefit not just doctors and researchers but directly effect patients and their families. Angels of Hope proves that a very small group of dedicated people can make a profound difference in countless lives.

It felt good to return healthy to a place where, just two years before I was very sick, bald and uncertain of the future.

We need to remind ourselves each day as we get older, that we are lucky enough to "get older."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Camp Keepsake

Camp Keepsake Promo Video

I just returned from a weekend of volunteering at Camp Keepsake. I've attended this wonderful
camp as a patient and guest in the past. This year I returned as a host (like a camp counselor) to welcome the new campers!

It was a thrill to return healthy and to return to give back to an organization led by a group of the most passionate and authentic people I have met in my cancer journey. Camp Keepsake has done so much for me and my family and friends. I've seen the camp give hope and transform patients into a family of warriors for love and life. I know it may sound a bit overwrought but I guess you have to experience for yourself the beauty and inspiration this single weekend of camp does for so many.

I was lucky to be paired with a
wonderful family group and made quick friends with Sophie and little Lauren. Both their mothers were dealing with health issues so it was a true gift to be able to give these little girls a chance to be little girls; to give them a break from the difficulties and suffering that illness can burden upon a family. Camp Keepsake is the one weekend when families can be "normal"and enjoy life and each other without worrying about chemo, needles and doctor appointments.

Thanks to Chris, Karie, Thomas, Melissa, Kristi, Carmine, Mara, Juli, Jason, Mark, Ryan, Oscar, Rose, Louie, Alon, Kevin, Joe, Dale, Drew, Gary, Emily, and everyone involved with camp. Here is another way that we take tragedy and turn it into something beautiful.

I can't wait to volunteer again next year!


Saturday, September 20, 2008

NAI - USC Marrow Drive

My undergrad Alma Mater is the University of Southern California. One week ago, thanks to my dear friends Tim & Margaret, I was 23 rows from the field at the awesome Ohio State rout. (USC 35, OSU 3). Today, it felt great to return to campus and show my Trojan Pride in a completely different way

The Neighborhood Academic Initiative is a University program designed to help get disadvantaged youth on track towards a college degree. Most of the teens in the program would otherwise not have a chance at a college education. A full-scholarship at USC awaits those who successfully complete the program and pass the application process. I had the pleasure of meeting a "graduate"of the program who is now attaining her Master's degree at USC.

I gave a talk at an intimate auditorium on campus in an effort to sign more donors onto the registry. Jerome Williams was also there to speak and the marrow drive was done in his name. Sadly, Jerome has not found a match yet and a number of the African-Americans in the audience voiced their desire to be his donor.

A majority of the attendees were Latino, which was wonderful because it is not often that I get a chance to reach out to the Hispanic community. There were many parents present who did not speak English, so my words had to be translated by an interpreter. There was still hope for Jerome, as he has some Latino blood in him.

A great discussion ensued after the talk and we dispelled many of the myths of donating marrow while talking about love, community and the miracle of saving a life . In the end, we signed up over 60 new donors. I just know that there will be matches for other patients to be found in that special group. :)

Thanks to Vivian, Maria, Monica and Michelle for a successful drive!



Friday, September 5, 2008


I'm devastated to report that my sister's cancer has relapsed. As most of you know, my brother and I also fought Lymphoma.

When will this end?

Please pray for her health.
And for the strength of her husband, Tony.


ADDENDUM: September 12, 2008 :

It appears that my sister wants her story to remain private at this time. In respect for my sister's wishes, this blog will remain focused on the life-affirming events and people in my healing journey.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Adrian "Baldy" Sudbury passes away

Across oceans and continents, the plight and the courage of Bone Marrow Transplant patients continues. In the UK, a young man who lived his last days dedicated to educating the public and finding other patients a marrow match has passed away. His story was not as known here in the States but his spirit and legacy has changed lives and will likely save the lives of future patients around the world.

Adrian "Baldy" Sudbury's blog chronicles his story.

Here are a few excerpts:

"I can’t beat this leukaemia but I can make a difference, I’m making the most of every breath I have left, I am spending time with some of the most wonderful friends and family anyone could ask to share their lives with; but more importantly I’m going down in style."

"I've led a decent life, seen a lot of the world and been in a job I've enjoyed. As for dying - how can anyone be scared of something that is going to happen to every single one of us?"

"One of the saddest aspects for me is that I hoped Baldy's Blog would shine out as a beacon in the too often tragic world of blood cancers. I honestly thought I had conquered the leukaemia, that I could manage the GvHD, get married and have children. I really wanted that to be the end of this story and show that people can overcome this disease."

"I have one last little mission before I die. I'm determined to try and educate more people about what it is like to be a bone marrow donor. There are still 7,000 people - children and adults in the UK alone - who are waiting to find a match. Without your help they have no hope. At least I was given a chance. The problem is people think it is some horrific procedure and I want to show as many people as possible that it is not like that. Apparently, the Germans have one of the world's best marrow registers. All they do is educate their sixth form students about why it's important to donate blood, bone marrow and how you do it. Why can't we do that here?"

"At this stage I decided the source of the anxiety was a number of factors. Of course the obvious one about a drawn-out death still worries the hell out of me. I explained in the previous post how my friends stepped in. It doesn't sound very cool to have a timetable but we did and it worked really well. Over three days I saw around 32 people. I was so proud of myself because now everyone has had the opportunity to say goodbye properly. I feel like I have said everything too and if I died tomorrow, it would be sad, but there would be no regrets."

Click here to read Adrian "Baldy" Sudbury's blog.

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” - Pericles (495-429 B.C.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

BONFIRE with mAssKickers & i[2]y

This Saturday, August 23, I will help to host the First Annual "Stupid Cancer" Bonfire in Huntington Beach. This bonfire will bring together the first inaugural group of young adult cancer survivors to celebrate another year of being young and still alive.

All are welcome whose lives have been affected by cancer. We plan on roasting marshmallows and sounding our barbaric yawps across the rooftops of the world.


ADDENDUM - Sept 1, 2008

We had a blast at the bonfire with attendees coming from San Diego,the OC, LA and the SanFernando Valley. Here are a couple photos. Hope you can join us at the next one!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

In the NEWS this week!

The surgery went smoothly last Friday and I've been at home recovering
nicely. Went off the powerful pain meds this morning after last
night's hallucinations proved to be TOO creepy for me to handle!

This Thursday, August 14, my story will be on KCBS/KCAl as part of a
larger story for City of Hope and ThinkCure. The segment is scheduled
to air during the newscasts on CBS during the 6A and 5P shows. It
also airs on KCAL during the Noon, 4P, 8P, 10P.

This Saturday somewhere in the 2 o'clock hour (to be confirmed), I
will be on KABC radio as part of a ThinkCure telethon to raise money to fight cancer.

For those who have been patiently waiting (thank you!) I finally set up a separate "college fund" account. I wanted to name it "Christine's College Fund" but for various reasons the checks still have to be made out to my name. "College Fund" should be written in the memo area. After so much uncertainty, I can't describe how wonderful it feels to be making goals for the future. I never realized what a luxury that was before. Thanks again to those who have sent gifts of support! Classes start in two weeks!


much love,

Christine's College Fund
10008 National Blvd. #174
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Story of my life...

Even with the upcoming surgery, there is still time to squeeze in and make a difference.

I have an TV interview with CBS this Thursday, the day before surgery, as part of a larger story they are doing about cancer-awareness.

As soon as I am somewhat recovered, the following weekend I will be on KABC radio for a live interview.

And this week, the Aug/Sept issue of Audrey magazine features a story about my cancer journey, written by Jennifer Chen.

I was at City of Hope yesterday for Pre-Op tests and the usual rigamarole. Things are a go. It's hard to believe that I still have to ask for help this far out from treatment. I got sort of depressed about it at first but then realized how lucky I was to have friends who were still there for me.

With love,

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Emergency Surgery?!

I went in for a routine appointment last Friday and next thing you
know, I'm scheduled to have surgery.

I will go in for the procedure this Friday, August 8. It is not
anything life threatening. We are just taking care of a small problem
brought on by the Graft vs. Host before it gets any worse. The surgery
will put me in bed for a week, strung out on painkillers. Yeah, it
stinks but it's a small price to pay for the privilege of still being

This comes at the worst time as I'm prepping for Pepperdine and still
searching for scholarship options. A few of you have asked for an
address to send checks to help. I plan to set up a separate "college
fund" account this week. Thanks so much and I will keep everyone updated.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Good News and Bad News

I was at City of Hope today for the official, rare, wondrous moment that all BMT patients pray and hope for: The two-year follow-up appointment. It’s an odd thing to look forward to… a hospital appointment with a doctor... But for someone who is told they would likely NOT see that day, it is a day welcomed indeed.

It took over two years but my blood counts are FINALLY totally normal! Yes, even those stubborn Red Blood Cells are back to regular levels. I’m not anemic anymore. My body can fight a cold. I don’t have to worry about bleeding to death. My brain is getting a decent supply of oxygen. No more excuses. Yay!

In the midst of our mini-celebration, I shared with Dr. Nade about how I have watched too many friends succumb to their disease - Friends who once stood with me, side-by-side. Sometimes it felt like these friends and I were on the battlefield together, holding our ground united. But soon the bullets began to hail and one-by-one they started to fall and all I could do was to keep holding my ground and not give in or give up, lest they die in vain. I thanked Dr. Nade for saving my life. She was the wizard behind the BMT. She was the bulletproof vest that pulled me through. We both teared up and hugged. Then, feeling a need to escape from the emotional vise, we just as quickly broke away and made hasty exits. Funny how we humans can be about emotions.

Well, at this point you’re probably wondering, “What’s the good news and the bad news?” Well…

I am THRILLED to announce that I have been accepted into the Graduate MFA Writing program at Pepperdine University! The program’s focus will be Writing for Screen & TV. Not many of you know that back in 2002, I had been stashing money away and was in the midst of applying to graduate schools when cancer took that all away. Now my dream of attaining a Masters Degree is finally in reach after being put on hold for the six years of my cancer struggle.

The bad news? I applied to Pepperdine enticed by the fact that the department said they would probably be able to give me a full-scholarship. Unfortunately, according to the head of the department, the monies they thought they would be allocating did not come to fruition. So instead, I have a scholarship that will only cover 10% of my tuition and a TA’ship that will cover daily expenses. I’ve already applied to a few outside scholarships and I’m planning to work all weekend to find other sources.

So I’m asking for help. I know we are all busy, but if anyone has any ideas or knows of any resources / foundations / funds / organizations or angels who may be poised to help, please let me know. After coming this far, I don’t want to give up.

Much love,