Help Christine Crush Cancer
We will also be using this page as a way for Christine to update you on her journey in the coming months.
Christine & her husband Matt were in the process of searching for a home to purchase in Dallas and had plans to start trying for a family this summer when their lives abruptly changed forever.
On Monday April 25th, Christine went to urgent care, she had a cough that was going on three weeks and wouldn't go away. Matt and Christine were supposed to leave for a wedding in Mexico that Wednesday but she began having shortness of breath and didn't want to leave the country sick. While at urgent care they took a chest x-ray which concerned the Dr. and they advised she go straight to the ER.
While at Baylor ER, they let her know she had a plural effusion, which means she had fluid surrounding her left lung that was causing it to partially collapse, hence her breathing issues. In addition to that, she also had fluid surrounding her heart. Christine assumed this was all due to her cough and likely a pneumonia she had let go on for too long without treatment. However, while in the ER a Dr. came in the room to let Christine & Matt know that they had found a large mass in her chest. The ER Dr. said and from what she could tell on the x-ray it was likely cancer. This mass in her chest is about 8 inches long, 6 inches wide and 3 inches deep. According to Dr.'s a mass in the chest is considered large when it reaches about 5 inches, her mass is very large.
Christine then spent that night and the next three nights in the hospital, during her first stay she had her plural effusion drained through her back. They pulled out a little over a liter of fluid from her chest. Dr.'s also pulled 5 biopsies from her chest to determine what kind of cancer it was. While at home waiting for results, four days after the first hospital visit, she was back with trouble breathing. The fluid surrounding her left lung had completely returned.
She received another thoracentesis to remove the fluid surrounding her lung. This second hospital stay spanned 8 days, during her time there, they pulled bone marrow, ran a PET scan and she had to undergo surgery to remove a larger piece of the tumor for further biopsy, as the first biopsy came back inconclusive. The Dr.'s had determined it was lymphoma but still couldn't nail down exactly which kind.
During all of this, Christine also had to deal with the realization that chemotherapy would likely leave her infertile. Since Christine was still waiting on a final diagnosis from pathology, her oncologist and fertility Dr.'s decided that she could move forward with IVF in hopes of having a child one day.
On 5/18, after almost a month of waiting for answers, Christine received her final diagnosis. She has an extremely rare and aggressive form of lymphoma, ALK Negative Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, this cancer only accounts for 1-2% of all non-Hodgkin’s cases. Her Dr. let her know that she will be undergoing aggressive chemotherapy, with possible radiation, for at least six-months. Anyone that knows Christine well, knows that she loves her hair extensions, one of the questions she asked the Dr. was if she would lose her hair and unfortunately it was the answer she dreaded. In true Christine fashion she jumped online and already has two of her favorite wigs in her online shopping cart!
Right now, she is nearing the end of IVF and we are hoping she will have a successful egg retrieval surgery very soon! While Christine & Matt have amazing friends
in Dallas, their families reside in Chicago. They will be temporarily moving back to the Chicagoland area for Christine's chemotherapy treatment so they can be close to their families and support system. Christine will likely return to Chicago on 5/25 or 5/26 depending on when her IVF retrevial surgery is scheduled. Matt will follow shortly after.
My sister is under an emense amount of stress and helping with these unexpected costs will help to alleviate at least some of what she is dealing with right now. My sister is my heart, please help me to make her life a little bit easier!
Christine's friend Aja came up with some great hashtags for us and I encourage you to please share her story with others using the below!
Life gave her Lymphoma now let's help her make lemonade! #WhenLifeGivesLymphoma #MeyersMakeLemonade #HelpChristineCrushCancer
I really can't put into words how grateful and thankful my entire family is for everyone's support. Thank you and God bless you and yours!
I had the MOST amazing group of people at Rush taking care of me the past six months. My awesome oncology nurse Rachel who always went above and beyond to check on me even when she didn’t have to, we shared so many laughs together and she is truly an angel!!!! Dr. Venugopal and his PA Jen were also always there when I needed them, the team goes beyond just them – the MA’s everyone who helped to schedule my endless appointments etc., Rush has just been absolutely amazing.
I have an updated CT scan next Monday then I go to my radiation Dr. in Lisle starting Tuesday to get a simulation done, from there he will plot out the plan for my radiation and if all goes according to plan, I’ll start radiation December 5th. My Dr. said I’ll have radiation Monday – Friday for 3-4 weeks, depending on how my mass reacts. It has shrunk but it’s still quite large so they hope the radiation will really break it down. As long as there is NO cancer activity and the mass isn’t interfering with my major organs like it was when I started then I’ll be all good!
After chemo I’m usually knocked out the rest of the day/night but today I’ve been on such a high I’ve been up all day and I’m crashing hard now! Matt took me to a celebratory dinner & now we are in bed with our baby girls about to watch Pet Life – today was a VERY. GOOD. DAY.
Thank you for all your continued support and words of encouragement, I’m ALMOST done guys! XOXO
#WhenLifeGivesLymphoma #MeyersMakeLemonade #RemixToRemission #LastChemo #FuckCancer
While waiting for my CT I was freezing, shaking I was so cold. Then after at my PET scan still freezing but near the end I felt my face and ears turn blood red with heat I knew I had to have a fever. My brother had taken me to my appointments and the poor kid now had to wait for me to stop by my oncology nurses floor to see if she could check my temperature. I started out around 101.3 and topped out at 102.7 degrees and they admitted me.
Both the blood from my PICC line and blood samples from both arms came back positive for infection and that sealed by PICC lines fate. They didn’t want to risk leaving it in just in case the infection started there, so while I had a mini nervous breakdown a resident came in and pulled the line out of my arm that I had seen IN my heart the day before on an echo-cardiogram. I was just a tad freaked out about the whole thing! I cried my eyes out while my parents watched, it didn’t hurt, I had just freaked myself out so bad that crying was all I could do. This past Monday they inserted a brand new PICC line for me to finish out my treatment.
My stay at Rush lasted from Tuesday September 27th to Monday October 3rd, it felt a lot longer! BUT my amazing view and even more amazing family and friends that came to spend time with me made the stay much more bearable. My girlfriend Michelle from Kappa works at Rush and came by to spend time with me during the week which was SO nice of her! My cousin Heather and I laughed our asses off, followed by my girlfriend Amanda painting our nails together followed by more laughing, then Saturday my parents, Auntie Irene, Uncle Kurt, Aunt Lisa and Uncle Randy all came by and you guessed it more laughing. Matt brought dinner in and we spend a night in watching SNL and yes, laughing. Lindsay and Pete surprised me Sunday around lunch and then Matt and my brother in law Garrett were back Sunday to keep me company. Of course by my brother Ryan, Matt and my parents were back and forth multiple times stuck in traffic (they drew the short straws) I really appreciate everyone who came to see me-it really made the stay so much better! If only they had pug visiting hours because I missed my girls SOOO much!
I was extremely anxious to hear about my updated PET and bother every nurse and Dr. that walked through the door. On Saturday morning a physician’s assistant came in and told me, while I was half awake, that the PET showed negative activity, meaning no more cancer activity. My reaction to her was, “So you mean like remission??!!!”, she smiled and said yes. To say I was thrilled would be an understatement I texted many family and friends right away. But still, I hadn’t heard from MY Dr. so in the back of my head kept questioning, was this PA correct, is she sure, am I really in remission-crap-what if I’m not?! I had my chemo on Tuesday and my onc nurse said she couldn’t confirm anything and that my actual Dr. would have to but they were at the Rush Oak Park campus so I’d get a call this week. That call came tonight so I can now confidently tell everyone that I AM IN REMISSION and it’s the best feeling in the world!
I will still finish out my last two rounds of chemo (started Round 5 this week, so I now only have 3 more actual chemo sessions left which is SO crazy and exciting!). Since my mass was so large I will need radiation and have my first consultation scheduled with the Dr. next Thursday. I know from blogs I’ve read that radiation will be daily, but I’ll know for sure and how many weeks I’ll have once I meet the Dr.
I honestly don’t know what to say. I am so shocked, grateful, happy, excited-and SO much more it’s difficult to explain my feelings. THANK each and every one of you who has kept me and my family in your thoughts’ and prayers-the love we have felt from everyone throughout this entire process has been so amazing and I truly can’t thank you all enough.
My journey isn’t over just yet but this news makes the remainder of my treatment SO much more bearable!
Much of what I share on here is upbeat and most of the time I try to be positive but there have been a lot of bad days too, side effects that would be TMI and no one would want to hear about, days that I wake up crying in pain or just because, and Matt is there to comfort me, my family has put up with my mood swings and much more but the good outweighs the bad BY FAR, because well…..REMISSION people!!!!
Since I’m a huge nerd I can’t stop putting the word remission with random song lyrics and sayings so I’ll leave you with these gems-if you can think of any more I'm so down to read them, please share!
-It’s the remix to REMISSION
-Fuck you cancer, DON’T come back now ya hear!?
#WhenLifeGivesLymphoma #MeyersMakeLemonade #RemixToRemission #RemissionAccomplished #FuckCancer
I waited until 4:30 AM for a bed, and since my white blood cells counts were good that day (DAMN THEM) rather than getting to stay in the fancy cancer center, I was put in gen pop, with all the crazy people that scream all night long. After my lovely night in the hospital my fever subsided, I was put on oral antibiotics and Matt busted me out of the joint. Then Friday night I was back in the ER with a suspicious looking PICC line, happy Friday to me! I spent the weekend in the hospital and was pumped with bag after bag of antibiotics. I was finally released Sunday night and couldn’t have been happier to be home. My PICC line looks much better now and for now will stay in as long as it doesn’t give me a problem again.
I started my third round of chemo on August 4th, which means at the end of August I’ll be at my halfway point-which is-SO. FREAKING. EXCITING! In even better news I had an updated PET scan and the results were fantastic! My tumor has shrunk in HALF and the Dr. said even more importantly, the actual cancer activity in the PET scan has gone down significantly so he is very confident we are on the right path and will continue with the treatment plan he originally set out for me. Which means I’ll still have 6 rounds of chemo (two chemo sessions within each round) and following that I’ll have radiation therapy on my chest. At some point in August I’ll be meeting with the radiation Dr. to discuss my radiation plan. We really couldn’t have hoped for better news, I was really nervous going into the PET scan because of the vastly different diagnosis I was given at Baylor in Dallas vs. Rush in Chicago and it seems like Rush hopefully got it right! We are just praying that the positive progress continues over the next three months and the radiation will totally kill this crap!
Onto the fun stuff! This past month we celebrated my little brother Ryan’s graduation from Western Illinois University & the end of his internship at the Palatine Police Department. Ryan will be applying to become a police officer and while it’s definitely a scary time to be an officer, we couldn’t be more proud of him. It’s something he has wanted to do since he was literally four years old so to see him grow up and accomplish that dream is so amazing. Love you bud!
So as it turns out I’m not a violin prodigy as we had all hoped. I now understand why we learn to play instruments as children because that shit is NOT easy when you’ve grown into a clunky adult especially one that has ‘chemo brain’, which I’ve learned is VERY real!
Matt said he loves having a dumb blonde(bald) as a wife, I was too opinionated and smart before, now I’m just the right amount of ditz! As much as I tried and squeaked my way through Twinkle Twinkle, my Mom thought I was amazing by the way, I decided that my expensive new hobby was meant for smart people and children, and right now I’m neither. I’ll have to settle for listening to YouTube renditions of Wrecking Ball, sigh. Onto bigger and better things-like what you ask?
Well as of a couple days ago I’ve signed my entire family up for the YMCA! We just can’t get enough of living together so I thought this is a great idea, let’s all go workout together too! The boys can lift weights and my Mom and I can be found in ‘Group Fight’ (different from the kind we do at home) and Zumba! This new hobby will help get all of us moving and it’s literally half the cost of those pricey violin lessons, plus I already know I can kick ass & love to dance so this is an all-around much better choice.
I want to give a little love to the amazing people in my life, of course everyone in my immediate, extended & in-law families, but also to my amazing group of friends I’ve been lucky enough to meet throughout my life. The outpouring of love & support by all of you has been truly amazing but I really just wanted to give a special little shout out to those people that have really gone above and beyond.
My high school buds, Amanda, Stefani, Stephanie, Amy, Lisa, Deanna, & Leah.
My college girls, Mitzy, Campione, Wysocki, Ashley, Julz, Melita, & Alexis.
My amazing girls I met somewhere in between/after school-Betsy & Ashley.
My Texas girls, Aja, Jessie & Ivy.
And my AWESOME JCP work family – there are too many to list but special shout out to Jessica, Jason & Sarah
You all have no idea how much the THOUGHTFUL cards, texts, lunches, dinners and more mean to me!!! I’m so incredibly lucky to call you all friends! I’ve had some really tough days and you all have helped to keep me positive and get me through those in one way or another so THANK YOU SO MUCH! XOXO
All my love!
#WhenLifeGivesLymphoma #MeyersMakeLemonade #HelpChristineCrushCancer
My best friend Betsy, her husband Jeff, and their son Ben and family pup Lieu helped Matt to shave my head and we had a blast. Matt and Jeff started me out with a Joe Dirt mullet and then left a real nasty rat tail which Jeff braided for me-yes, Jeff is awesome. Betsy and Matt then finished the job shaving me completely!
We sat in the backyard, blasted music, laughed, cried, laughed some more, I’m sure the neighbors where like WTF drugs are these people on-and they have a baby!? Thankfully nobody has called DCFS on Betsy & Jeff yet.
We have a ton of video and pictures from the night, I put together a few collages below to share.
Love to you all!
#WhenLifeGivesLymphoma #MeyersMakeLemonade #HelpChristineCrushCancer
Hi Christine and Matt, you both two amazing people. God will give you the strength to fight this ugly disease. You have the most wonderful family surrounding I have ever know. We love you so much, we think about your courage and strength everyday. God bless you both. Barb, Greg, Jen and Graham Hansen. Xxxxxxx
I'm Andy(Drew's)mom and Matt's H.S. Spanish teacher. Just wanted to mention that if the wigs did not turn out to your satisfaction, let me know because a good friend of mine got a fantastic wig that actually looked way better than her own hair. If you want, I will call her and find out where she got it. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you go through the disgusting chemo with all of its side effects. I love your art work and am gonna listen to Miley's song and think of you and your fantastic attitude...learning to play an instrument-what a great idea. I have not had the pleasure of meeting you, but it's clear that you are a beautiful and most special person. Affectionately, Sharie Freudenberger
Thanks for the great news!! Love and prayers continue! You have kicked cancer's butt and we are so happy for you and your family!
Dear Christine &Matt, Our thoughts and prayers are with you both during this difficult time. We're glad to hear you ( found the path to remission) and no more pain and suffering! Jim and I heard about your plight when in-laws Dave and Mary Ann moved back to IL. They shared your story with us. Our hearts sank for you both, I am glad I found you on fb which is so very new to me. I guess for the most part the hard stuff is over (remmision), but what lies ahead is still a hard road to follow. Just know we're close by and can always stop in at Rush to visit. I'll even bring a joke book so you can laugh your ass off! Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers, Jimmy and Marianne R.
Love and prayers!!
Christine! You look so incredibly amazing with a shaved head! You really do! ❤️
I know an O'Neill but i don't remember if her name was Christine it might've been christy forshort.