And What Followed...

Friday, October 27, 2006

From Rory - Helping a friend

Butterfly Lovers,

I had the honor of assisting Christine with some minor things on Sunday, and want to give you all an update and some information I gleaned.

For starters, I must say, she looked f**king amazing!!!!!!!! I mean it! She looked really, really great. And even though she got fatigued easily, she was up and at 'em the whole time I was there.

She could not say enough about the prayers from everyone and totally credits her friends and family (and even strangers) for her recovery. So please, keep praying. There is hard evidence that supports the power of prayer and Christine is well aware of it and a big believer. (A special shout out to those of you who have lit candles in churches including Italy, China, Greece, and France...she LOVED this!!!)

She also really appreciates simple emails, voicemails, and text messages--"Hey, I'm thinking about you and sending you love." But because she is so damn polite and accommodating, she feels obligated to return emails, messages, and texts. So please, be sure to let her know she doesn't need to respond and don't ask for an update. She needs all her strength to get well, and simple things like making a call or sending an email are literally exhausting for her. (If you want an update, visit her web site,, or post something on the yahoo group and someone will respond.) Give your love freely and generously and don't ask for nothin' in return.

When she does start accepting visitors, here's how to be the best visitor ever:

-Assure her you don't mind the drive and that it's not a big deal. (She doesn't want anyone to feel obligated or burdened. She doesn't realize it's a privilege and an honor.)

-Encourage her to take a walk outside and assure her you'll be fine to push her in her wheelchair if she gets tired.

-Bring organic bananas, oranges, and mangoes.

-Don't bring gifts just to bring gifts (it'll be more for her to pack and haul when she leaves). Obviously, if there is something you think she'd really love, bring it. But otherwise, don't bother.

-Offer to help her with everything over and over and over. She's too polite to say "yes" the first three times. Specifically, make her meals, wash her dishes, post an email to the yahoo group for her, send emails for her, and make phone calls for her. (Surely there are many more, but that's all I could get out of her.)

-Just be her friend and engage her mind and spirit. It gives her so much and is really invaluable.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

From Joy S - "I saw Christine Today" poem

The wonderful and talented Joy S wrote this for me when she visited a few months ago whilst I was in the "bubble". Can't believe it's already been a few months. For those who do not know Joy S, she is a legally-blind, single-mother, cancer-survivor and one of the most beautiful and strong women I know.

I saw Christine Today

I barely glimpsed her silhouetted form
Through the window of her bone-marrow ward.
I could not see the covering on her head,
The pallor of her skin or eyes,
Or the fragility of her weakened body.
But I saw Christine today.
I looked into the window of her soul
And clearly saw her gentle spirit.
Her serenity and strength were evident.
I heard and felt her smiles and tears
As she read aloud with keen appreciation
The prayer I had written for her.
The rhythmic cadence of her voice
Made me momentarily forget
That here was a woman fighting for her life.
We gazed into each other's soul with wonder.
It was an electrifying connection of two kindred spirits
Who have known adversity and the triumph of faith.
My eyes could not look into Christine's eyes,
But I clearly saw into her soul today.
I cannot read the mind of God
Regarding Christine's future
But I know here is a soul
A being refined through suffering.

-Joy E. Walker Steward
July 27, 2006

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Typed by Rory - Please pray for...

(Hi, I'm Christine's friend, Rory, and I'm typing this for her as she dictates from bed):

I'm feeling a wee bit better this weekend, though quite tired right now and that's why Rory is typing for me. No real news to report, other than that the swelling is almost gone and it appears that the acute scary thing that happened is over. As you already know, the bone marrow biopsy is coming up this Tuesday and I just want to ask for everyone's prayers and good vibes. Here's specifically what I'd like for us all to pray for:

1. The marrow is still 100% donor graft.

2. The marrow is healthy and is producing lots of healthy cells.

3. That my white blood cell and platelet counts continue to improve.

4. That my red blood cells come into balance.

5. I can shake off this fatigue and be well enough to attend the marrow drive/fundraiser this Saturday.

I hope you can swing by the event and grab a burger and that you'll let all your friends know. Jerome and Debra from "Cinema Secrets" were on 100.3 The Beat today, promoting the event. And KBIG will be running promos all week, so the event will likely be a fun one!

My doctor says that IF my biopsy results are good and IF my blood counts rise, that I may be able to go home in two to three weeks. "I think I can, I think I can…" :)

Much love,

Saturday, October 21, 2006

From Brian - irving quote

Christine, I was just reading the following words by Washington Irving and I immediately thought of you:

"There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire,
which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity;
but which kindles up,
and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity."

Countless blessings,


Thursday, October 19, 2006


(Warning: Still under medically-enhanced mental crush. Apologize for any loopy-ness that follows.)

This has been quite the ride.
I feel like I am the lithium in my bi-polar life.
To mis-quote Jessica Rabbit:
"I'm not bi-polar, my life is just drawn that way."
Up. Down. Life. Death. Love. Disappointment. Bitter. Sweet.
Victory. Defeat. And Victory again.

C'est la vie.

I'm just looking forward to raising that glass of wine in San Gimignano, Italy.

Though I am joyously overwhelmed with the amazing "you're cancer-free" news from Monday, my body is still clearing the debris from last week and preparing for the bone-marrow biopsy procedure on Tuesday. It's like doing back-to-back triathlons whilst completely inebriated.

I just can't get over how bone-tired and worn out I am. This is sooooooo not me. It takes work to sit up again. I'm scuffling around like Grandma Moses. I can't even write. I think the nuclear powered medications they gave me last week fogged up my head and short-circuited some synapses. But I think I'm getting better. The swelling has gone down considerably. My blood counts are slowly climbing back up again. Whew!

A doctor said it well when I confronted her about the fact that we still DON'T KNOW what it was or what is happening:

"Well, would you rather we NOT know what it is, try to do something about it and it go away, or that we identify exactly what it is and not be able to do anything about it?"

Well put.

I'm starting to fade out…. Need more sleep. Thank you for the continued messages and prayers. They're definitely working. I love you guys.


P.S. I like this quote and wanted to make clear that it has nothing to do with the ride request. I read it as " Do the good that you can and do not fear."

- - - - -

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

-Edward Everett Hale

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

From Rebecca - Still very weak

Just a quick note that Merry C and I spent the day/night with Christine yesterday. She is still very weak and is really just needing people to help her with food and cleaning up. We spent the day grocery shopping, organizing her pantry and refrigerator and cleaning up A LOT of dishes……

She is doing better, she ate a whole big plate of stir fry and brown rice and miso soup, what a trooper! We spent the evening just talking about stories in regards to our lives over the past years.

She wanted me to write real quick to let you know that she is still very tired and weak and isn’t really taking visitors but knows that you are all thinking about her. She looks towards another big milestone next week.

Keep her in your mind….

-Merry and Rebecca

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

From Julia - PET scan results

Dear everyone--

I was lucky enough to see Christine yesterday (Monday) afternoon. I wasn't visiting exactly; she's still too weak for visitors. But I was there to kind of accompany her to a few appointments, wash a few dishes, etc.

She had a PET scan before I arrived and while I was there she had some blood work drawn. Most of the time was spent waiting in various halls to hear about the results of these tests. Mainly we talked and caught up. While she seemed in good spirits, it was clear she was tired and still wiped out from her recent illness.

Finally we got called in and Dr. Nademanee, her doctor, appeared. We were in a small room, which Christine said was the room where she got all of her news--good and bad. She was waiting to hear about 2 things: if the PET scan showed any cancer in her body and whether her blood counts were still really low (which would mean she'd have to have an infusion).

On both counts, Christine got GREAT news. First of all, the PET scan showed that she is cancer-free. Cancer-free! This was the only time I saw Christine kind of break down. She was so relieved and happy. I didn't realize it but had the PET scan showed any cancer at all, it would have meant Christine had only months to live. My understanding is that out of all the people who have had transplantss and lived on, none had cancer at Day 100. All the ones who did simply didn't survive.

This means that Christine still has a fighting chance. This girl is a walking miracle.

The other happy news was that her blood counts went up. I think they're still not great, but they were good enough that she was able to go back to the village instead of having to stay and have infusions. So we took a little tram back from the hospital to the village and celebrated Christine's victory with ice cream.

Christine was still feeling so wiped out that she didn't have the energy to email. So I hope I'm doing her justice with this account. I don't know how to convey how much emotion there was when she found out there was no cancer in her. She's still not out of the woods yet--next week, she'll take another important test which will determine if the graft is producing enough blood cells. But I can't imagine anything beating her, I really can't.

So keep praying, everyone! And let's focus it on that graft producing lots and lots of healthy blood cells. And a big thank you to everyone on Christine's behalf.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Poem by Sliva

Christine Sliva wrote this poem last Spring after helping me through another despondent day of not finding a miracle match. She didn't share it with me until now. I think its message can apply to any of us, at least once or twice in our lives. Thanks for the beautiful words, Sliva...


You Are...

Have you already forgotten the greatness of your strength?
Think of all you have been through
And you are still here.
Not untouched by pain,
Not untouched by love.
You are the meaning of courage,
The image of beauty.
Do not cry for what is lost
But allow tears of joy to fall from your eyes.
You are a warrior
Armed with the power of hope.
Nothing is more inspiring
Than who you are.
You have fallen but refused to stay down.
Again and again you have fought
And are still standing.
I remember a saying:
"It's not brave if you're not scared."
You are the bravest person I know.
Refusing to live a life in fear,
You move forward.
Living in the moment,
Letting go of yesterday
And not counting on tomorrow.
You cherish each bird that graces the sky,
Showing you true bliss exists.
You are much stronger
Than you give yourself credit for.
You are a blessing, my friend.

-C Sliva

I love you and think of you all the time. Keep living, keep loving, keep praying. I am.
Christine Sliva

Friday, October 13, 2006

Day 100 - Clung to life

Well I am glad to still be here, but the last place I expected to be on "Day 100" is HERE, writing this particular e-mail from inside the hospital, hooked up to the 7-foot I.V. poles AGAIN, with my cheeks swelled up like the blueberry-girl in Willy Wonka. I swear, I cannot even recognize my face in the mirror. I'm a walking bobble-head. It is absolutely freaky. Like, imagine Eddie Murphy's stunning make-up job in "The Nutty Professor" but WITHOUT the fat-suit. FREAk-Kyyyy. (Okay, maybe not THAT bad, but upsetting nonetheless!)

While the doctors have not been able to explain what happened or what is wrong, at least they have been able to treat all the icky symptoms that have stormed in this week. There was one point where it felt like my feet were on fire, all my fingers were cramping into their own violent mudra, my abdomen felt like there were steak knives plunged into it, there was a sledgehammer in my forehead, my eyes were swollen shut and I was shaking like James Brown on crack, ALL at the SAME time. Honestly, at that moment I thought it was over, and as I began to make peace with it, the fever broke.

Today was my first day without painkillers. I was simply and absolutely delighted but depleted, and conscious enough to catch up on the emotional part of the last few days. The best way to describe it is that feeling you have just after a car-accident or an earthquake. Sort of the "what-the-heck-just-happened-oh-my-god-I-could-have-died" restlessness and irrepressible desire to cling to someone or something or life itself. What I clung to was everyone's messages and prayers… visualizing our interconnectedness with each other… and focusing on the faith, hope, trust and love you just GOTTA to
believe in to make it through.

Some good did come out of this. All the tests that were done have presumptuously pointed to the fact that today I am DISEASE FREE: meaning there's not single a blip of physical cancer inside! There is one more test we have to do on Monday. The PET scan. The big one. It measures not physical things like tumors, but big C "activity". Sort of like the MI5, the PET scan can warn of enemy activity and imminent threats. I hope they come up with nothing. They are also scheduling another "marrow graft" test soon. I hope they come up with something good.

There is a rumor going around the 5th floor today that I may be discharged and sent back to "the village" in the next day or two. This is neither good news nor bad, neither a promising sign nor a troubling one. It just is. I am still just as vulnerable and swollen as I was at the beginning of the week, but because the doctors don't know what else to do, they are sending me back to the village in hopes that everything clears up on its own. (Now I know why they call this place "City of Hope".) They also assured it would be better to be sequestered in the village because it was less likely that I would be exposed to a hospital infection. At this point, I am just focusing on making it to the next day.

Thank you thank you thank you so much for the continuing prayers and messages. I cannot even begin to describe how vital they are to the healing. I know this is not easy for anyone, and it must be tiring after pushing through your own struggles to read and pray for someone else's. Now that's what I call Heroic. I am tearfully thankful to know that I am not alone in this room. And I'm wishing and sending out nothing but love. Nothing but Love.


P.S. This has obviously been very hard on my mother. Everyone involved has agreed that she needs to take a break. So she is leaving for a week starting tomorrow. My father will return with her. And we'll take it from there.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

update from JT - Christine still in rough patch

Today Christine’s worn out and feels physically “broken” by the events of the last few days. The acute pain and burning have subsided, but she remains in great discomfort. The swelling is still pretty bad. She’s having an easier time breathing. She can talk a bit but it takes great effort. Her white blood cells are dangerously low and the usual injections don’t seem to have any effect. This is more cause for concern than the swelling.

Her doctors have yet to figure out what is wrong. She’s back in isolation. She’s obviously scared but encouraged that a few of the bad scenarios were crossed off the list. But her Mom asked to continue to pray for Christine because they can’t say if she’s merely fighting something temporary or something worse. She is having more tests today, including a second CT scan.

Now Christine, I hope you don’t mind me stepping in here, but I have to put my two cents in:

I know everyone is chomping at the bit to see Christine but she is really in a rough patch and needs all her strength to get through this. I heard that a couple people stopped by unannounced and while her Mom says it is a nice gesture, Christine is left more drained than before. You know she will never say no to a party or to a friend. No matter how bad a day she is having she will always be there for you. She is a saint and while we all love her for that, it can backfire in this situation. So we have to be responsible here and give her some room so she can get up and better.

That said, her Mom says she’s boosted by everyone’s prayers and messages. Keep ‘em coming!


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

update from JT - Keep those prayers coming

this just in...

Christine's fighting an as yet undiagnosed severe infection and/or allergic reation and/or graft versus host disease and/or early indications of graft failure. (pray that it is definitively not the last two)

Her head and upper torso have swelled up so bad that she can barely talk or move. Her pain is addressed with potent sedatives and bags of ice. Her face and lips are so swollen that she has difficulty breathing and eating.

She is to have an MRI of her brain and a CT scan of her entire body taken today.

She is too sick to respond to calls/e-mails or have visitors but she's awares of everyone's prayers.

The doctors are running a gamut of tests on her but everything so far has come up inconclusive.

The good news is her fever broke and her blood pressure is coming down to normal.

Keep those prayers coming!


msg from Doug - Fight On

Hey Christine,

You are so strong and wonderful, I don't see how this can stop you. You've been through this fight for so long and have won so many battles against such crazy odds, that you have to win. I believe it. Everyone who knows you believes it. Every post you get is a testament to that. Every person who knows you and loves you is proof. I can only imagine how scared you are right now. But you don't have to be. If you need strength, just think about your friends and family who you've touched and are with you. We are an ARMY, and you are not alone. You got so much love, there ain't nothing can stop you.

You will win.


msg from Tony C - More prayers needed now!

Dear Friends of Christine,

I just received a call from her mother, Lu Pechera, and she requested that I send out this note to you all urging you to pray for Christine. She didn't give me any details other than that and just wanted everyone to focus their thoughts and prayers to her right now. Wishing you all the best as we pray for her.

-Tony C

Monday, October 9, 2006

Scared right now - Need prayers

I am fighting through a sedative fog in my hospital bed to write this so forgive me if i sound less than eloquent.

The past 24 hours have been a terrible storm of 104 degree fevers, cramping, burning, violent chills, heart palipilations, swelling and malaise. My blood counts plummeted to critical levels, lower than when I was moved to the village. I am writing because a doctor said that this may be an indication of graft failure. What that means is that even though the marrow grafted, it may fail to produce enough white cells, red cells and platelets to keep a patient alive. So I just need you guys to pray for me because there isn't much else the doctors can do if that is the case. I'm tethered to IV poles again. And honestly, though I have peace in my heart for whatever God has planned for me, I'm sorta scared right now.

The "cardiac failure" miscommunication occured not just because of a bad cell phone connection, but probably because I was terribly out-of-it when I talked to Cray, There was a nurse in the room taking my vitals and i probably mumbled to Cray about how my blood pressure was too high and my pulse rate was way above normal and that they were going to do an EKG because they were worried about my heart.

It's so weird to live in these extremes. Saturday night I spoke to a black-tie standing ovation, escorted to the stage by Mr. Helford himself (as in the guy whose name is on the hospital I am in right now) and the very next night I am too weak to stand and fighting for my life. I was shaking in tears throughout the night because of the pain and my mom tried to comfort me by saying, "just remember last night, you were in glory." One day the you feel like the world is wide open and the next you feel like the world is ending. But you just got to keep pushing and going and loving and BELIEVE.

I love you guys all so much. I'm not exactly sure what is going on myself. But I am sending my heart out to all of you.

much love,

Sunday, October 8, 2006

From Mike - Pray for Christine- possible Graft failure

An update relayed from Christine in the ER.... Want to correct that rumour saying that Christine is having cardiac arrest right now. Christine said “cardiac failure” should have been “graft failure,” and blamed a poor cell phone connection for the miscommunication. In other words, she’s been told the fever and symptoms she’s currently experiencing are possibly due to graft failure – so she definitely needs all of our prayers, meditations and positive thoughts. She also said she can’t take calls right now because she’s being sedated, but updates will continue to be posted here. Christine is being readmitted to the acute care part hospital. They don’t know what’s causing all of this.



I want to inform all of you to please send out all your prayers and meditations to Christine NOW!

She is in the ER ROOM and is going to be admitted to the hospital. The doctors don't know what is wrong with her and it is very bad!

I just spoke with her 2 minutes ago and she is very weak and doing everything she can to stay alive! Give her all the support you can through your prayers and meditations.

p.s. sorry if this is getting to you several times...we are having difficulties posting this message.


Thursday, October 5, 2006

Day 89 (99 Days in the hospital) - Busy little patient

Today is Day 89 post-transplant. 99 days in the hospital. The big milestone "Day 100" (post-transplant) falls on Friday the 13th! My counts are still lower than hoped for at this point, so we still don't know how much longer until I go home for the next stage of recuperation. I am tearfully thankful that I am still here. Tomorrow I go in for the next battery of tests to see how the weather is inside.

But right now I need some help. "Cinema Secrets" in Toluca Lake will be holding a fundraiser/marrow drive on Saturday, October 28. Debra, Mike and their team of make- up and costume maestros have generously stepped forward to make a difference. There will be an In'n'Out truck at the event from (I think) something like 11 to 4. Every burger sold will go towards helping Jerome and I in our fight against cancer. Jerome is a very good friend of mine who will be admitted for a bone marrow transplant in the next month. His odds are the same as mine. So tell all your friends, (especially ethnic minorities!) to go there if they haven't signed up on the registry yet, if they haven't got their Halloween costume yet, if they have a few dollars they can drop into the donation can, or if they just want a good burger. I plan to have my very first "double-double-animal-style" of 2006 that day!

This Saturday my Mom and I will be kidnapped by Limo to a hoity-toity fundraiser for City of Hope where I will be honored as a "special guest speaker". From what I hear, the Los Angeles equivalents of the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Astors will be there. It's going to be weird speaking to such a discriminating crowd whilst sporting a big blue surgical mask.

One more thing, remember that F-Word movie I worked on? We are rolling out in theaters across the country starting in November.

It's a long road to recovery. But it sure never gets boring around here.

From the hospital bed,