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November 2, 2016

This weeks goal for the fundraiser

Hey Team Christina members! The last couple of weeks have been tough for me emotionally, and just trying to keep up with all of family legal and financial affairs. I need all of your help to push the fundraiser this week to hit a target of $1,000 for the week. We are able to raise $37k very quickly last year so I know we can do it! Please share this post with your friends, family, and social media contacts along with a story about my beautiful wife Christina! I love her so much, and miss her more and more every day it seems. Please help keep this fundraiser alive. ~ Today we are hopeful ~ Curtis

October 27, 2016

Celebration of Life video

For those that were not able to attend Christina's celebration of life we have posted the video presentation here.


Here is the video of Cole doing is dry run speech, powerful!

Enjoy!
~ Today we are hopeful ~

October 26, 2016

KEZI News story follow up

Jennifer Richardson from KEZI out of Springfield is doing a follow-up story on their morning news cycle.  If you remember Jennifer did an interview of our family including some of our foster children from Texas and Oregon.  This coverage assisted in a boosting the number of donors for our fundraiser to get us to Germany for treatment.  This time he fundraiser is Christina's dying wish, to serve others! Jennifer will post the follow-up story online for those that are not local, or for those that just want to see the interview.  I am recording the 6AM and 11AM on comcast channel 9.  I will add the online link once available.

Regards,

Curtis
~ today I am hopeful ~

October 23, 2016

Thank You!

A huge thank you to all ya all (Christinaism) for pulling off a beautiful service for my sweet pea!  Christina is at the top of the list of contributors to her own service, which exemplifies the gift giving nature of a beautiful beautiful mind, spirit, and soul.  Special thanks to Vicki Bern, Mary Skillings, Lene' Garret, Karri Manning, and my super star son Cole for beautiful speeches.  Christina kept me out of the planning activities, therefore I will just say thank you to all of you for loving support through your work, or just the thoughts, prayers, love, and laughter during her celebration. Christina's legacy will live on through all of us!

I am honor by both Michael and Leslie for being the first family to be the recipient of Christina's dying wish.  Christina and I know first hand how difficult it is to accept help, and we learned over the years that it isn't just about us.  Giving to others in need is therapeutic, and for me this campaign to raise funds in Christina's honor is helping me through this process.

Please consider donating to this fund Christina's Last Wish.  This is the start of a bigger campaign, so please keep coming back to Christina's blog, and subscribe to get email updates.  Also consider sharing her blog with family and friends. Jennifer Richardson from KEZI news out of Eugene is putting together an update to our interview last year.  Once she tell me it is ready to air I'll post an update for the time and channel for the locals.

For those that were not able to Cole will post the videos to Christina's blog in the next few days.

Warmest regards,

Christina's Husband
~ Today I am hopeful ~

October 17, 2016

Christina Lee Garrett
February 8, 1971 – October 16, 2016

On Sunday the waves in Christina Garrett’s life calmed, and her soul became the ocean. The timelessness of her spirit will always be there, in the space between the waves, where love is stronger than fear and hope is stronger than despair, where love is not difficult to find and peace is impossible to avoid.  All those whose lives were touched by Christina can feel the glorious harmony of the ocean because she dedicated her life to making that space exist right here in everyday life.

Born February 8, 1971, Christina is the daughter of Mike and Judy Morse and the free-spirited sister to four uniquely gifted brothers: David, Danny, Sammy and Stevie.  She earned her undergraduate degree in human services and her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling.  Christina believed in building a better world through compassion, love, understanding, and without judgment.  She always remained open to receiving, holding out for a healing miracle.  She trusts that the risk of loving is always worth taking.

From the moment their lives intersected, Christina and Curtis, her husband of 12 years, knew they belonged together; they instantaneously became a dynamic family. What has grown over the years has been an amazing love affair weathering triumphs and tragedies, continuously strengthening their soul connection with each other.  They nurture each other’s souls with caring expressions of love.  Curtis made their love visible through his unwavering tender and gentle outward expression of love and care for Christina during her journey, as she says –even though…even when.

She raised over sixteen children (biological, adoptive, and foster), instilling in them that hope is a commodity and the importance of family, laughter, compassion, and pursuing personal hopes.  Her approach to life helped cultivate individual dreams and aspirations, while building self-confidence to become the remarkable young men and women they are today.  Her heart will continue to be strong in her children:  Tyler, Quentin, Dominic, Pablo, Amber, Carlos, Cole, Christopher, Jackson, along with seven other amazing young adults. May the ocean remind you... “What we have once enjoyed we can never lose; All that we love deeply, becomes a part of us.” Helen Keller

Celebration of Life for Christina Garrett
Date:   October 22, 2016
Location:   Grace Community Church                   
Address:  Lancaster Drive, NE, Salem OR 97305
Time:   2:00 pm

Today, I am hopeful~



October 16, 2016

Christina peacefully passed away. The family is grateful the suffering has fully ended; Christina is excited for the journey that awaits her. There will be a Celebration of Life; when the plans are in place an invitation will be posted on social media, everyone is welcome. The family has made every effort to include everyone in this announcement by way of social media and texting. Please share the information freely to help fill any potential oversight.

The family encourages you to visit Christina’s blog for the most up to date details: christinasrealtalk.blogspot.com  Once on her blog, in the left hand corner you can sign-up for automatic email updates that will arrive in your personal email within 12 hours of a new posting.

In lieu of flowers and cards, the family encourages providing gift cards that the kids can use, for example to Safeway, Subway, McDonalds, or Panda Express. These can be dropped off at the service, or mailed to the family home.


If you have questions, please email Karri Manning at kmanning13@georgefox.edu OR Lene’ Garrett at lenepgarrett@gmail.com  Please limit questions as they are organizing a great deal of items. Keep in mind as well, that additional details including ways to help will be forthcoming. 

October 5, 2016

Processing the Meaning of Life~

I have been thinking about life, a great deal lately and the more I do, the more I want to capture these memories – if even for a moment. I am beginning to compile list of “stuff”. As I reflect, I am coming up blank – but that is okay; this is part of the new me that I am trying to embrace. I must embrace and accept all parts of me, this is hard at times. If I don’t write it down – I shall not remember! I want to remember all the pieces of my life because they are important.

Daily wound dressing changes weigh heavy on Cutis emotionally. It is incredibly difficult for my husband to see my wound and to see me in pain. Therefore, I take measures to insure he does not see the wound while we are dressing it. Curtis makes the healing paste, comprised of fresh neem leaf’s, turmeric powder, and neem powder. I pack the paste into the open wound; once packed, I place an opti-lock wicking away material over the outside.

Recently Curtis remarked about how my wound looks, I do not recall the specific words, but they cut deep and brought me to an uncontrollable releasing of tears. There I was, standing partially clothed in our bathroom, arm lifted into the air as I was getting bandaged – my tears could not stop flowing. Simply put, I needed him. In that moment, I felt like I just lost him.  I want him to change my bandage. I did not want yet another stranger in my home – it’s not a modesty thing but rather an intrusion in my sacred space. I just wanted my Curtis to figure it out with me, that’s all – we could certainly figure it out. We are the ultimate Team Christina and we will do this together – no matter what. Right? I wanted him to love each ugly gross piece of me, even though, even when. The sorrow escaping the pores of my body was deep. My greatest fear looking directly at me. Silently, in my head, I begged him to stay with me, however he was not implying that he wanted to leave me. Curtis would never leave – his marital vows are sacred and he took extremely serious. What was happening for him during this bandage change – he was sharing the pain he was feeling. He wanted me to understand his pain and that he was not sure what to do with it.  He did know one thing; he would like some back-up! Totally fair. Completely reasonable. Here we both stood – confused, overwhelmed, not knowing where to go next.  We process this journey differently; we ask for what we needed in different ways.  Each time we encounter difficulties, we somehow manage to get through them. He and I are determined individuals and Team Christina WAS together!

Curtis continues to share a deep anger, followed by a great irritation, when one may remark, “it is so surprising you [Cutis] would stay, you are so noble.” It just pisses him off, of course he would stay – that is what you do – you honor marriage vows. Then Curtis says he is able to get to a space where he is able to accept the words as they were intended, that of a compliment. He does note that it is a viscous loop that he gets caught in often. While many may think they are making a compliment to the person – it can be received as offensive as well. Think about it this way – he took his marital vows serious, so to think he would even consider leaving is so offensive to him. Next time, before you deliver what you believe is a compliment -give it a second thought.

Let me rant for a moment: High profile “famous” individuals, such as David Foster – really exposed fans to his authentic self, in rock star fashion, He chose to leave his darling wife Yolanda because she became chronically ill with Lyme disease. These events have brought even more attention to the sheer number of spouses that choose to leave their loved one when they need them the most. It is a rather disgusting trend occurring across the county. I recently listened to an interview Yolanda participated in with Dr. Phil – the discussion included Yolanda stating “I am not the same woman that he [David Foster] married”. It made me think that – in truth, we all change, develop, and grow in relationship; none of us are the exact same person. So to the men and women who have left their significant other in their greatest time of need – I offer, how does one register this action as acceptable in nature? In my world, real men and women stay, love, and support, their loved one through the illness – even though, even when.  Is it difficult to be the caretaker, absolutely! Are there times where choosing the leave the relationship is the right answer, while of course, there is always the exception. I am fortunate that I know my guy will stay with me no matter what – this is dedication and this is yet another reason while I love my Curtis so deeply.

Over the past two weeks I have noticed shift in emotions – I am a crying person. I once was mortified to consider myself in this category yet today, I embrace the status. The act of crying truly heals the soul and makes one feel cleansed and refreshed. I cry. I want to get better and for my body to heal itself. Do I feel as though I can beat the odds and continue to live? I say yes! I too look at my ulcerated tumor along with acknowledging all the pain I am in and wonder, can I really? Oh trust, if you saw a photo of the tumor you too may be stunned by atrocity that has developed, opened up and rests comfortably in my armpit. I have not decided if I want to go public with the visual – I think it may make everything worse. Instead, let me describe it to you. First of all, it is quite fantastic – yet most things I have seem to rock that direction. It literally looks as though a fish head is emerging from my armpit. There are breathing gills, eyes, and a large mouth, it reminds me of a catfish. So yes, I have a freaking fish growing from my armpit – Happy Halloween?!?!?!?!

I am in this interesting phase of my life.  I remain hopeful that I will become better, yet I am on hospice. How does one resonate that in their mind. The goal of hospice is to control pain and provide comfort. A patient is placed on hospice if believed the patient will pass within 6 months.  Hospice and I are getting closer to finding the perfect balance of pain management that still allows for me to be up right doing things. It was oddly decided last week, more so by the RN, that 5 on a scale of 1-10 would be my goal. I will need to clear this up today because my pain level goal will be a 3. I understand that they may bring about additional sleeping – but this is okay because I need to sleep to heal my body. Right now, my pain rests around a level 5/6.  


The worst part now is that Curtis and I are both struggling – with similar things, yet the desire and/or ability to discuss these are not connecting. For me, I am searching for validation and/or acceptance. I thought I had completed my inner child work on this topic, and several others, many times over the past five years; yet here I sit, desperately wanting to be told:

Thank you for the sweet card
You made my day with your gentle hug
Thank you for ……

I am not sure why this issue is appearing yet again; what I do want to figure out is how to manage this, clear it from my plate, and move forward. I have to know that I am enough without validation of others. I am good enough. I am loved. I perfectly imperfect. Life is interesting in that it has a way of making us go deeper with our thoughts in order to become a better person. Whatever the case may be, through the occasional doubts, road blocks, holes in the roads, and signs saying things are not possible – Curtis and I will continue to stand strong together. You see, we do know how to lean into each other and that is what we do. Walking a tight-rope is not an ease foot – but when you believe in yourself and the other person, there is no failure.  For Curtis, I believe part of his hold-up is that he may be talking with a person that does not know how to bring relationships together, but rather creates ruptures, ultimately causing new fractures. If this is truly happening, I hope this individual can quickly find themselves and correct these errors quickly. Time is something we do not have, and you know this.

We had our weekly meeting with my hospice RN to discuss pain management and wound care. Last week wound care proved to be painful and unpredictable. We were able to design a new medication treatment plan – we started ER Morphine and now have doubled the ER Morphine to (90mg, 90mg, 90mg, 120mg) from last week. This was a new medication we began last week, although I have taken Morphine ER previously, with little to know impact. But this time, in conjunction with all the medication I am taking, it is now working! I too was able to get an increase in my Trazodone to 100mg to sleep better. My body needs rest in order to heal. Pain control, this is a tricky situation. Just when you think you have it under control, it all goes sideways and PRN medications are rolling in like crazy. I am hopeful that within the next few days I will be feeling great. Most likely I will be napping daily, that is a part that comes along with increased pain medication. Although the level I am currently on would render most patients bedbound – sleeping most of the time. My body just eats through those medications like crazy!  

How am I doing at walking this tightrope?
I would say I am doing it in my perfectly imperfect style.
Doing it my own way.
There is no right or wrong.
It just is what it is.
Yes, there it is, she is back!!!

Pay close attention, to how I process my hurt, fear, and pain. Perhaps there is something you can take from these writings that will inspire you to be a better person, to do things differently, to love yourself, to own your stuff, to offer love, and to keep moving, do not get stuck. Getting stuck in a patters or loops, I speak of often. You see, it does not matter how fast you are moving, it is simply that you are moving forward. Life is like this; we must find a way to continue moving forward as to not get stuck. I want to offer my sincere gratitude for allowing me this writing to process and resolve that which was hurting my heart. It is all good now.


Many have asked how they can help our family. One of the easiest most helpful ways is to send gift cards to stores such as: Safeway, McDonalds, Subway, or Panda Express and mail to either my home address or to PO Box 192 Philomath, Oregon 97370. The gift cards make it easy for the kids to go grab a quick bite or pick-up groceries for the family. 

Thank you to everyone that continues to pray, send healing thoughts, and positive energy our direction. Although I am unable to respond to every email, text, phone message, FB message etc. please know that I am reading and listening to each one and appreciate the continued support. I really enjoy opening the mail box to find up lifting letters, I thank you all for these words that are enormous gifts to my heart and soul.


Today, I am hopeful~


September 12, 2016

Fondant make-up, to missing squatty pottys...

Well as it goes, I continue to work on finding a balance between living a fulfilled life with adequate pain medication on board – this is not an easy task. Of course with the use of pain medication comes bowel issues. If you have been keeping up with my Blog entries, you will appreciate, my desire to never return to near bowl obstruction land ever again! I have been faithfully taking my Senna prescription – 12 pills per day and drinking my SmoothMove tea. I too have embraced the side effects of Senna; for example, I have what I call the walking grandma swirl that booty fart generator going. That’s right, it does not matter where I am, if I am walking and need to release gas from my body, I turn that swirl that boot fart generator on straight-away! I was walking with Curtis’ cousin Courtney during a recent shopping trip – oh I had to let her in on what was going on with my body; at every turn, my body is becoming quite the traveling carnival of sorts. As I began to tell her about what was going on, the generator started to fire up and there was no stopping it. Here we go… with shopping buggy in hand, I swiftly turned the the buggy the other direction as I was frantically waving Courtney to come my way. Secretly I was willing her to follow me without asking questions. Nestled safely at the end of an aisle, I explained the new medical development of fun in my life. Her and I were laughing so hard in the middle of the store. This only promoted additional movement in my bowels; which is a good thing although a bit problematic. Her and I went flying through the store to find the restrooms – yep, they were locate at the opposite end of the store.  When I finally located the restrooms, got settled down on the toilet, I went to raise my legs and feet – but there was no squatty potty.   WHAT no Squatty Pooty -  how is this going to work? Despite not having the proper accoutrements to release one bowels, as I like to say, I was successfully able to do so.

It is quite delightful and wonderful that hospice comes to your home, there is no waiting in line with individuals coughing all over you, doctors running late, or nurses wanting to take your weight! My RN and I talked extensively about pain management and how to mitigate the pain. For example, I am running at a 9/10 right now, which if pretty high especially with all the medications I am currently taking. I have allergies to several typical pain medications, leaving us with Morphine as the best choice. We talked about adding another medication traditionally used to treat anxiety called Ativan to the mix in order to boost the effects of Morphine – the end goal find comfort. I am an anxious person by nature and have taken Ativan previously and thought it was okay to try it again– what is that saying: kill two birds with one stone. I was agreeable and added Ativan to the mix. No sooner did I get used to the possibility of the Ativan, when the RN mentioned Methadone. Well, that me stopped in my tracks. As a clinical mental health counselor, I am aware that methadone in given to those trying to get off of heroin – well, I am not a heroin addict. Although I understand the medication has multiple uses, I needed to process this addition a bit more. I asked if I did start taking methadone, does that mean we are going to be able to reduce down the morphine? The RN looked deep into my eyes, paused, and then said so tenderly, at this juncture we do not typically remove medication, we add. And there it was…I had forgot, I am on hospice. I am on hospice because the collective “they” believe I will die within 6-months’ time – I have been on hospice for nearly 1 month now. That conversation was pretty humbling. I am still processing and thinking about the methadone. Thinking about the fact that I am 45yrs old and on hospice. I am processing…… and it hurts.

The one medication that I did add was the Ativan. Now it is difficult to tell which medication is contributing to this piece of the carnival I have going on, nevertheless, it does add unending moments of levity as you see, I nod off a lot during the day while resting, while in bed, or riding in the car. The beach car ride was littered with such shows. Curtis and I were able to sneak away to the beach for the day this week; It was beautiful. We went to Cape Perpetua, we married there back in 2004. Cape Perpetua is the highest peak on the Oregon Coast. Curtis and I stood there overlooking the majestic ocean coast line, it reminded me of how quickly our love developed – we were meant to be together, and we both knew it. Everything we had been searching for all our lives, we found in each other and more importantly we had awakened the better version of ourselves. It was not that he completed me or that I completed him but rather, it was that this person knew how to pour into the very essence of who the other was, thus making us better more whole people. It was quite magical; at that moment, I knew I had found my soul mate, my partner in life, the person who would chose to love me, quirks and all. There we stood, I watched him looking around and taking in the beauty. As I watched him I experienced his joy and I too experienced his sadness. For if my life is to be ending, Cutis believes a piece of him will have has slipped away. But this this not true my darling Curtis – you will continue to live a joyful life, you see, you will allow me to continue to live on through you. Our hopes and dreams shall not fade; we will continue to make these come true. Our quest to find internal peace, to be grounded, and to become a better versions of ourselves each day. Yes, this is what lay ahead. We shall do this together whether I am here in my physical body or not.

Back to my “shows” as Curtis calls them. When I am in a dream like state I speak aloud often and traveling home from the beach I did not disappoint. It was quite riveting; I was a bride’s maid in a wedding with people I did not know. I was in this big room getting my hair and make-up done. The thing is…the make-up was cake fondant that had been prepared for each bridesmaid – they were laying it over our faces and somehow making it stick. Seriously WTF?!?!?!!?!?!?! Um yep, it was extremely strange. The next dream included my husband making a snack for himself in a large ramekin and then he squirted a whole bunch of mustard on the side. When I asked what that was for, he said for Junior, our dog. Wait, what, he wants our white dog to start eating mustard… weird on many levels. I forced myself to wake up – or perhaps it was the laughter that awoke me. Nevertheless, it was hilarious!

I am getting tired so I am going to finish up here. My week ended on a high note, a friend from graduate school Angie, took a few professional senior photos of my son Jackson, i still cannot believe he is a senior! Then over the weekend, my friend Lene’ drove from Salem to pick me up (I can’t drive due to all the medications I am on) to take to her house. She recently purchased a home and we were going to do a little shifting around of pieces to balance things out and generate some ideas for new pieces. It was so much fun. We always have such a good time when we are together. It nice. It is easy. I always feel love. She is a sister to me. While at Lene’s house I received a text from my friend Candice who said she had just dropped off a surprise on my door. When I arrived home there was a beautiful flower, which I immediately planted in my front yard, along with several food gift cards for the kids. What a blessing today was! How can I not be filled with gratitude? Living in the moment is amazingly cool. When you choose this life, you choose happiness at a level many think is not possible to achieve, but it is. It is actually closer then you can imagine. Although this past week has been interesting, we thrived and had fun!

Many have asked how they can help our family. One of the easiest most helpful ways is to send gift cards to stores such as: Safeway, McDonalds, Subway, or Panda Express and mail to either my home address or to PO Box 192 Philomath, Oregon 97370. The gift cards make it easy for the kids to go grab a quick bite or pick-up groceries for the family. 

Thank you to everyone that continues to pray, send healing thoughts, and positive energy our direction. Although I am unable to respond to every email, text, phone message, FB message etc. please know that I am reading and listening to each one and appreciate the continued support. I really enjoy opening the mail box to find up lifting letters, I thank you all for these words that are enormous gifts to my heart and soul.

Today, I am hopeful~

September 4, 2016

Embracing each day...

I can tell you that I know today is Sunday, this a good start as time escapes me often which in turn is a blessing and a curse. The highlight of the week, hands down, was Jacksons first football game of the season – he is a senior this year so every game is a huge deal. Thanks to my special angel Elaine Markley, that takes care of my family and I on many levels, Curtis and I were extended superior seating accommodations; we parked at the east end of the football field and watched the game from the comfort of our vehicle. Elaine greeted us with a bag of popcorn, a program, and in true cheerleader fashion she was bubbly and bouncy as ever. An added bonus of the night was getting a “hi mom” from Jackson as he ran past the car at half-time. I do not recall much of the actual football game – I am living in the moment on just about every level, but I do remember a few things: the sweet visit from my friend Becky whose southern accent and words of encouragement makes you smile leaving you feeling like a million bucks! My friend Jenny who is always filled with surprises and a willingness to lend a helping hand whenever needed. She ordered t-shirts, with Jacksons #53 printed on them for Curtis, Winston, and I along with a pink Spartan hat for me to wear when the weather turns cold. As the 3rd quarter began, I quickly started to fade, the Spartans were having a great game and Jackson was playing the line like a beast, but it was time for me to go home. Friends Elaine and Mindi met Curtis and I at the gate with encouraging words of support and guided us off the field. Friday was a spectacular evening.

Have I resorted to highlights & low lights, well perhaps after all this is about real talk. It was a rough week, yet upon reflection, I need to consider if this was a rough week or the experiences of this week are quickly becoming the typical week. Pain control continues to be a moving target; I remain eternally surprised that anything on my body would hurt at all based on the amount of pain medication I am taking. With the help of Curtis and hospice, we are becoming increasingly savvy at tracking the pain and knocking it back before it gets too far ahead of us. Concurrently with pain control, I am managing wound care with the assistance of my dutiful, ever so loving husband Curtis. Each day in the afternoon it is shower and wound bandage change time. We are both getting used to the yuck that comes along with changing bandages and cleaning out ulcerated areas of the mass – it is not fun and sometimes requires a couple Xanax for me to get through the process. For a while now, I have been using fresh neem leaves, made into a paste by Curtis, to place on the ulcerated mass. My Ayurvedic practitioner Sharon is sending me fresh picked plants and shipping them from Texas to Oregon. I have been told by the hospice RN’s that my wound will not heal it will continue to get worse as my body will not have the resources to heal. My thought on this matter is that anything is possible and I am all about producing the impossible! Watch me heal. I remain open to a healing miracle. 

I keep saying that I need to start writing little notes about events that occur during the week because if you have not picked up on it by now, my memory is not the best – which is completely okay with me, I accepted this stepdown a while ago. This actually enables me to live in the moment on an entirely new level than ever before. Each moment and interaction so precious, incredibly authentic, and filled with rich deepened love.

As I sit here typing at my large kitchen island, I look to my right and see the most glorious blue sky, speckled with white clouds and think, what a delightfully blessed life it is that I lead. On January 1, 2016 I chose a word that was to define this year, that word was gratitude. This word is the best one to describe where I am at in my life – the essence of my life in the year 2016. I rest nicely and quite lovely in gratitude in large part because of the amazing people I have in my life. I am surrounded by family and friends that love and adore me – they see the best parts of me and cultivate these parts. I have the most loving and dedicated husband, this man loves me and when I say he loves me, it is a love that I don’t think most people experience. He loves me: even though, even when. It doesn’t faze him that my body and beauty have faded over the years, what he sees and experiences is the most perfect and beautiful wife. He sees his best friend, wife, lover, his everything. It does not matter that I am bald. It does not faze him that I walk around the house passing gas at will, because I need to. He does not care that I peed the bed this week – he just got out the carpet cleaner and started cleaning it up. When he finds me emotionally broken, confused, and in pain; he simply embraces me. This man LOVES me; he does not see me as broken or damaged, he sees me as perfectly imperfect – the beauty he calls Sweet Pea.

I have been blessed with amazing individuals in my life – it is all of you that make it easy for me to walk this journey filled with positivity, grace, and peace. I am forever grateful for this as it makes this journey one of beauty. I love the angels that walk this earth, that are here to lift me up and help me be a better version of myself. My acupuncturist Mandi that comes to my house to provide treatments. My friend Rita that provides her healing touch through massage. My friend Belinda that will drop everything to come be with me, clean my bathrooms, and either brings me nuts or a fresh baked pie. My friend Elaine that has continued to bring over dinner once a week for over a year and when I say she brings over dinner I mean it. She brings all the fix’ns from napkins, desert, main dish, sides, drinks, bouquets of fresh flowers, plants flowers in my planter boxes outside the house…I could go on and on. My friend Candice who I worked with years ago, decided to surprise me and dropped off the most amazing jasmine plant along with a lovely card and gift cards for my boys – the plant is in my bedroom and it is remarkably beautiful! I just have good people in my life that care about me and my family. This is just a few examples of the love I have from others in my life. Oh how I am blessed.

I was saddened to learn that a land mark along the Oregon Coast at Kape Kiwanda known as “duckbill” was naturally destroyed by the weather. Not to worry though, I have a photo of me siting upon this glorious structure; Curtis hoisted me up there during a visit a couple years ago so I will forever have this memory. I love that in one of the photo’s I am throwing up my beloved peace sign – something that I experience nearly all the time, peace. *UPDATE: it turns out that there was a group of people who destroyed this structure by rocking it back and forth until it loosened and tumbled down the hill. What a disappointing situation.  

Please do not forget that I would love to hear from you – please write me letters. I am doing my best to respond to each of you, but know that it lifts my spirits to read your words, reading that you are thinking of me, and that we have shared something special during this life journey – it is such a gift. Although I am not really having visitors to the house, I love to get texts, emails, but hand written letters are my favorite. I appreciate the level of privacy and respect we are receiving as a family and I thank you.

Christina Garrett
PO Box 192
Philomath, OR 97370

There you have it, a little update. I am not sure how much time I have left but I sure am trying to make the most of it. I am thankful for the care hospice is providing; to think that a few weeks ago I was in such pain and so ill that I thought my journey was ending. Each extra day I get here, I am embracing.

Many have asked how they can help our family. One of the easiest most helpful ways is to send gift cards to stores such as: Safeway, McDonalds, Subway, or Panda Express and mail to either my home address or to PO Box 192 Philomath, Oregon 97370. The gift cards make it easy for the kids to go grab a quick bite or pick-up groceries for the family. Thank you to everyone that continues to pray, send healing thoughts, and positive energy our direction. Although I am unable to respond to every email, text, phone message, FB message etc. please know that I am reading and listening to each one and appreciate the continued support. 

#duckbill #CapeKiwanda #hospice

Today, I am hopeful~






August 27, 2016

Pain, pain, go away...

I am encouraging all those following my journey to go to my blog and in the left hand corner enter your email address in the FOLLOW BY EMAIL box. By entering your email address, you will receive new blog postings automatically delivered to your email within 12 hours of a new posting. Due to the progression of this disease, my health condition may rapidly change and I want to insure all those praying, sending positive energy, and healing thoughts receive information as it is released.

I continue to have access to the medical care offered through hospice; this has been a gift. I rather fancy the idea of my medical team coming to me rather than needing to travel to clinics, it too adds an extra layer of care and compassionate delivery of medical care. Trying to get ahead of my pain has been quite tricky. I realize that my pain tolerance is rather high. I would say that my pre-hospice pain level was best measured at a 20 on a 1-10 scale. It wasn’t until hospice placed fentanyl patches on my body, that I fully realized the true extent of pain I have been enduring spanning 12 months’ time. My condition creates a moving target of sorts especially concerning proper pain control. For the moment I have settled into a semi-regular pain management schedule that is doing a good enough job. I am taking 150mcg of fentanyl – by way of patch that last 72 hours before needing to be changed. Break through pain is being controlled with morphine – typically 60mg every 5 hours. We have added 1000mg of Gabapentin taken daily. These three medications, in concert with each other, are able to positively reach different pain receptors and have brought my pain level into the 1-10 traditional tracking scale– I now rest with a pain level typically between 3-6. I am sharing at length regarding pain control for a couple reasons, first I was unaware of the heightened level of pain I was living with – unnecessarily and secondly, that with proper pain control, it makes life easier for not only my body but my mind.

Reducing pain has allowed me to have additional energy to spend time with my family and organize things to make the life transition easier for my family. While this journey sometimes brings tears, it too provides moments of levity that are priceless. Oh how I wish I would have been writing a couple sentences daily about my adventures as they are quite funny at times – the evenings are an adventure for my family to witness. I tend to start nodding off and I start having conversations with individuals that are not in the room with me. During these conversations, I recognize at a certain point that I am doing this and then begin to laugh. I often unknowingly insert myself into the TV program that is playing in the background. Due to the high levels of medication I am on, I am choosing not to drive, for certain I would be pulled over and cited straight away with a DUI! Recently, Cole and I traveled to the church in Salem, Oregon where my Celebration of Life will take place, we were checking out the venue and doing a run through of the amazing video/movie memoir he has put together; it looks amazing. On the drive home I began to nod out and Cole insisted that I take a video of myself, which of course I did – it was hilarious. 

While there are funny moments, there too are difficult moments. Earlier in the week I was experiencing a tremendous amount of pain, which we now refer to as the “J situation”. I awoke around midnight to the most incredible pain that was exasperated when I would take in a breath. The pain trail mirrored that of the letter J, hence the event naming. I was bracing myself with one hand on the headboard of the bed, the other hand was poking around the J area trying to figure out what was happening. Curtis and I both confused and a bit stunned not knowing what was happening – I felt it had little to do with the open wound but rather something muscular or nerve related. Nevertheless, I kept saying aloud that I did not know what was happening and I needed help to figure it out. Curtis and I began working backwards removing KT tape, then removing the bandaging from the wound, we pressed around the J area searching for tender spots, and we too wanted to get a visual of what the heck was happening. We were unable to identify anything out of place or out of the ordinary. We then had to put me back together; Curtis applied some essential oils along the J and then reapplied the wound dressing. I was still in a tremendous amount of pain, so much so that the right side of my body seemed to be collapsing unable to stand. We then shifted to reviewing my medication for the day while identifying which medication I would take now to address the uncontrolled pain.  After taking the decided on PRN medication, Curtis lovingly tucked me back into bed, placed an icepack on J, and I was able to fall asleep around 1:00am. After sleeping for a few hours I awoke about 5:00am to the same pain, in fact it was worse! – I did not wake Curtis, I immediately called the hospice line for assistance. I was pleased that the voice on the other end was an RN that had taken care of me before – she knew if I was calling I must really be having a situation and she was correct. I shared all the details of J; we discussed what I could do now to address the pain and came up with a plan – I followed through with her plan. She later contacted me after speaking with the MD and placed an order for some additional medication. Although we were not sure what was causing the J pain, my RN was committed to getting me out of pain, which we were able to slightly accomplish.

Later that morning, my acupuncturist Mandi came over – she has been making house calls whenever I need her – she is such a gift! When she arrived to the house I explained the traumatic J events from the early morning hours and she immediately said something about my 7th rib, in part, being the cause of this discomfort. Next thing I know, Mandi leapt onto my bed and manually did a couple maneuver’s on my stomach along J and just like that, I could breathe again without the harsh pain; and I felt even better. Mandi taught Curtis the special technique so he can now get me back into place too. The school of thought is that the mass is externally becoming smaller due to the rupture allowing fluid to drain. The mass, prior to ulceration had created such a change in the biomechanics of my shoulder area, with my shoulder rolling forward, that everything is a bit out of place including the muscles surrounding the area. Most easily put, things are trying to return to where they belong and there are some hang-ups along the way. Between Mandi’s magic and immediate pain medication adjustments, I was finally feeling pretty good. As I am typing right now, I am starting to experience pain along the J area – so I will stop for now and pick-up later.

I have been spending my good days working on pulling the pieces of my Celebration of Life together. My hope is that my husband and children will be surrounded by all those that love me – that they will feel an overwhelming sense of peace, love, joy, and happiness, despite my passing. I too am making the celebration into something special – I want everyone to know how important you are to me and to walk away from my service feeling inspired. I am making gift bags to hand out along with the Celebration of life program; in each bag there are personalized special things that I hope will inspire you and will create unique lasting forever memories. It may sound a bit silly I suppose, but I am excited to share this last memory of me that I believe captures the essence of who I am and the legacy I am leaving behind. I love that I am able to design the program for the Celebration of Life. I love that those who will be speaking or who have contributed, have asked me for an outline, guideline or framework for their particular part, and I am able to say – you write or say what is on your heart – there is no right or wrong it will be just perfect. I love that I continue to have moments where I am able to see myself through the eyes of others, it deeply impacts my spirit and humbles me.

My life right now is complicated and yet it is not. I am able to rest, text sometimes with others, occasionally have a visitor, and just be. It feels good. Curtis and I are blessed that our son Cole (20) has chosen to put his personal plans on hold for the next year and has moved back home to be an emotional support to the family, especially to our youngest son Jackson (17). It will be Jackson’s senior year of high school. This is a proud mama moment to know that my children are choosing family first, without hesitation and are transforming a difficult situation into something that is beautiful.

Many have asked how they can help our family. One of the easiest most helpful ways is to send gift cards to stores such as: Safeway, McDonalds, Subway, or Panda Express and mail to either my home address or to PO Box 192 Philomath, Oregon 97370. The gift cards make it easy for the kids to go grab a quick bite or pick-up groceries for the family. Thank you to everyone that continues to pray, send healing thoughts, and positive energy our direction. Although I am unable to respond to every email, text, phone message, FB message etc. please know that I am reading and listening to each one and appreciate the continued support.

I am not sure how much time I have left, yes my pain is better controlled which has increased my quality of life but we too must remember the other side. I have an external ulcerated mass that the RNs say will not heal it will continue to get worse – and avoiding infection is key. The systemic cancer disease process is rapid and aggressive. I mention this because when looking at me, on most days, I look as though everything is good. It can be a bit deceiving for us all. Curtis and I get a reality check when dressing the wound or when reviewing the medication log and the amount of pain medication I am taking.

Thank you for joining me on this journey, for all your encouragement, support, prayers, and love. Please know that I have made every effort to make arrangements for notifications of health updates, my passing, and details regarding my Celebration of Life to be posted and announced via multiple social media outlets. The best way to insure you have up to date information is too sign-up on my blog to receive new blog posts delivered to your email account. So when my journey here is over, I want there to be a true celebration of my life. I want you all come to my Celebration of Life, surround my family with your love and support – I hope my family will feel the extension of your love that I have experienced over the past five years.

Just know, I am still holding out for a healing miracle – I am open to receiving.

Today, I am hopeful~


August 18, 2016

Health Update: August 18, 2016


The past several days was fraught with many unexpected twists and turns with my health. Saturday I was placed on hospice and was planning for my passing to occur within a matter of day.  However, hospice has been able to provide an unprecedented level of pin control in concert with wound care that has given my little body a boost of energy - it has been incredible. With medications blocking pain, the family and I were able to take a quick day trip to the beach: my feet in the sand, the smell of the fresh ocean air, and witnessing the glory of the majestic ocean, something I thought I would never have the opportunity to do again before I passed away. 

While pain is better controlled, it is important to remember the disease process has not changed; the cancer is running wild, the mass growing, opening, and weeping. My body is very sick.

It is quite an extraordinary gift that I feel better for a moment, I am now able to spend a bit of extra time with my husband and children, put the finishing touches on my celebration of life, and plan some special surprises to leave behind. This may sound silly but I'm really excited for a couple things I have planned at my service. I hope there will be an outpouring of support for my family and that each individual attending will experience my love and spirit at our unique connecting points- this is my parting gift to all.

Multiple social media and text notifications are in place as to not overlook anyone. However, I'm encouraging everyone to sign-up for email alerts on my blog as to not miss updates. Love, peace, and hope to all. I'm filled with gratitude that I am surrounded by so many incredible individuals that are loving and caring for my family and I. I too remain open for a healing miracle- anything is possible. We appreciate you giving our family privacy as we are not taking visitors, for the most part, however letters, texts, and messages are all welcome. I am not able to respond to all but do read each message.


Today, I am hopeful~

August 13, 2016

My journey will soon end in a matter of days. This journey has been filled with amazing forever moments, many of you have been a part of these moments. I am at peace and ready to end my suffering as I enter my new journey.

My family asks for privacy at this juncture; someone will share when my journey ends along with details of my celebration of life.

Love, peace, and compassion to all~

July 11, 2016

Taking a break for a bit~



Today marks 5 years since diagnosed. Most women lose their lives in the first 3-5 years, so take that statistics! If I would not have had all these re-occurrence, this would have been an incredible day to celebrate. But instead, we are quietly entering the next phase of the unknown. I have decided to take a break from all social media for a while as I'm tired and need some much overdue privacy. Today included an unexpected trip to the infusion center for IV fluids due to sever hydration conditions. Thank you for the continued support, thoughts, and prayers.


My body and mind need a rest from stimulation right now. I cannot even find the motivation or strength to return letter, I am just not in that season of my journey. I do appreciate the letters, I read, keep and cherish each one. Perhaps this need for an isolation of sorts will pass quickly and then there is a chance it will not; time will only tell. I am filled with gratitude to have so many individuals interested and joining me in my journey - I could not do this without the out all of you. Until next time...


Mailing donations:
Christina Garrett
PO Box 192
Philomath, Oregon 97370

Selco Credit Union Direct Deposit: "Team Christina"


Today, I am hopeful.

July 4, 2016

Signs, oxygen, and reduced inflammation!

It all started with a directional sign that in part read Oak Creek Juvenile Center. As I passed this sign, I was taken back to the summer of 2004 when I first stepped foot in the facility to see one of my children. As I continued to drive it was as though time stood still as to provide a space allowing my mind to visualize and experience countless dramatic rapid memory flashes, liken to photographs, from childhood into adulthood; they continued to appeared in rapid succession. Then they stopped. I realized I had driven a couple blocks. My breath was slowed and I could almost feel myself coming back into my body – I felt as though my mind and body had separated from one another as I lamented on my life. When I was again fully present with my driving, I said aloud, “my life has not been easy”. I had not thought of many of the memories that flooded my mind for years. One stunning memory was of being in junior high and high school and not being able to manage the social expectations. While in junior high school, I thought often of ending my life – life just seemed too difficult to navigate. I recognized that it did not need to be difficult, but people really made it hard for other people thrive. Many kids were assholes, some authority figures took advantage of their position, it was like I felt trapped in this hell of sorts and did not know how to get out. Ultimately, I left home around the age of 15/16 dropped out of school the summer prior to my junior year of high school. I had total forgotten that I dropped out of school. What a strange memory to have resurface. My senior year I enrolled in a private Christian school and worked diligently to complete two years of school in one year to graduate on time, and I did.

Many of the memories unearthed impacting events in my life – my life has been wrought with challenges many of them I invited into my life by virtue of the advocacy and social work I chose to immerse myself in for all these years. As I write I think of the many injustices that happened to me that I have never spoke of – there is little reason to reveal now as it would serve no purpose. I too know that it is because of what I experienced, it drove me to become a fierce advocate, especially for youth. I married straight out of high school into a loveless marriage to man a did not really know. I became pregnant a couple months thereafter and felt trapped. We eventually divorced after about 2 ½ years of marriage. I had been single for a while then I met my second husband. He had a stable job, was older and more established, he adored my son, and he seemed to love me. At that time in my life I was looking for stability and that is what I got. He and I adopted a son – so our children were separated by about 9 years. As I grew older, he and I grew apart – we were living more as friends and less as husband and wife. I remember feeling so alone and thinking that marriage really sucked and that I never wanted to be married again – ever! We eventually divorced. I actually loved being single, no commitment, I would send the kids to see their dad (my second husband had taken on the role of raising my biological son) every other weekend thus getting a break from being a single parent. I had a lot of fun, but eventually I too grew tired of dating and silly games guys would try to play that I wanted no part of. Just as I was ready to stop dating, I met Curtis and two months later we would marry. I did not want to get married again but I could not pass up Curtis – he adored me, he had never been married, he was mature, had a steady job, an 8-year-old son, and I was smitten by him. Curtis and I have now been married 12 years.

As I reflect on the images that flashed so vividly on that day, I think of how wonderful it is that I have a strong resiliency gene. Despite all the challenges, trauma, trials, advocacy, hurt, abandonment, and loss here I am standing upright and greeting life as it comes at me. You know, we all have a story, if we are honest with ourselves. Many pieces of our story will forever remain silent – only for us to know. Especially as children, as we see life through such a vulnerable unique filter making it difficult to put what is happening into words so that someone can understand the pain, loss, fear, lack or worthiness and so on. One of the gifts we can give ourselves in adulthood is to attend to our inner child and process the dangling pieces of our lives. If we fail to address these, the patterns will continue into adulthood and repeat over and over again. I have done a lot of personal work over the past five years, having a terminal diagnosis has a way of pushing you to that uncomfortable place quickly. I have chosen to do my work. It is just that I do not think our work is ever truly done – there is always room to go deeper and grow more as a person. When I saw that sign that set these traveling thoughts twirling around, this was one of those moments, a gift for me to continue to grow.  

Because even chemo can be funny, with Lene'!
I have recently chosen to have chemotherapy infusions weekly for three weeks with one week off. The first two infusions I did 50% (low dose) of the medication typically given and the last two I chose 75%. I am not sure what I will do this week although I am leaning toward 75% due to a lack of tumor cell death while choosing low-dose chemotherapy. I am at a point where it becomes a quality of life issue – it is not a simple answer or choice. Doing 75% infusions on Thursdays makes Fridays really interesting around our house. I say the strangest things. I have vivid dreams and am often in a state between sleep and being awake – similar to a meditative state. After this last infusion, I recall having a dream about my soul rocking back and forth almost as though I were cradled in a swing of sorts. There were others there too but no physical bodies – yet I could feel the others around me. It was peaceful. Gently being rocked back and forth. I felt that I had a choice, that I could choose to leave this journey or choose to stay. I chose to stay, despite the discomfort I knew I would return to and this comfortable state I would be leaving. The timing of this dream is interesting as I do not feel as though I am close to death, despite the diagnosis. I too plan on living a healthy life into my 80s and offloading this diagnosis in the next 18-24 months. The dreams and visions are very interesting. There too is a pretty funny side to Fridays, the day after chemotherapy; Curtis tells me that I say strange things and he captured one such event as he audio recorded me. I hope to post it for all to enjoy!

Inside the chamber.
The oxygen hyperbaric chamber has been an amazing find! It is making a significant difference in reducing the inflammation of the mass. I am beyond thrilled about this modality as it is reducing my pain – something the morphine is failing to effectively manage. Last week I chose to do 75% chemotherapy, still low dose chemotherapy. It is for sure more difficult to recover from 75% then 50%, but I need to try to get more bang for my buck from chemotherapy. The day after this last chemotherapy I went to the hyperbaric chamber then came home and slept from about 2:00 pm - 8:00 pm, I was awake for a few hours and then went back to bed and slept for another 10 hours or so. My body is tired and needs rest in order to heal. I recommend that every one in the area try the hyperbaric chamber at least once, when you call to schedule your appointment, tell them I sent you and you will get your first 60-minute session for only $39. The chamber treats over 80 different ailments from PTSD, strokes, TBI, autism, cancer, wound care, post-surgery healing, and much more. This is an amazing modality that I cannot say enough positive things about!

New Leaf Hyperbarics
1200 Executive Parkway #230
Eugene, Oregon
541.636.3278
http://newleafhyperbarics.com

I want to share photographs of my success in using the chamber. Although a bit graphic, the images depict the severity of the mass. I am quite sure you can only imagine the pain I am experiencing. Most importantly, you can see the reduction in inflammation of the mass. The oxygen chamber is working!!! I am so grateful I have access to this modality and that it is working. 


 
 


I continue to utilize alternative modalities in combination with western medicine, a majority of which is not covered by medical insurance. If you would like to offer financial support you can mail donations to the address listed below or make a direct donation at your local Selco Credit Union. Every dollar donated goes directly towards my treatment.

Mailing donations:
Christina Garrett
PO Box 192
Philomath, Oregon 97370

Selco Credit Union Direct Deposit: "Team Christina"



Today, I am hopeful~
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June 26, 2016

Oxygen Hyperbaric Chamber

I just started using the oxygen hyperbaric chamber last week and I am THRILLED with the early results. I have complete two 60 minute sessions and have experienced a reduction in inflammation in the axillary region. Not only has the inflammation decreased but my energy is increasing. Imagine what I cannot see, all those cancer cells are dying. The oxygen chamber treats over 80 aliments from autism, CP, arthritis, PTSD, TBI, cancer and more. I am strongly encouraging everyone try the chamber at least one time. When you call to schedule your appointment, tell them I sent you and you will receive your first 60-minute session for only $39.

New Leaf Hyperbarics
1200 Executive Parkway #230
Eugene, Oregon
541.636.3278


I am now rock’n my bald look once again, the third time to be exact. I do not mind being bald, I actually kind of like it. I continue to work on placing my eyelashes on so they look as grand and glorious as possible. Some days they just go on wacky and seems impossible to fix despite multiple tried to reapply. I have been asked many questions recently so I want to answer a few of the questions that I can remember off the top of my head. If you have more – send them my way and I will answer them privately or publically. Thank you for being interested in my journey.

Q: Is the mass operable?
A: No, the mass in not operable. The majority of the mass is a grouping of lyphnodes that have become diseased and inflamed causing them to, as I put it, develop their own city. If the site were to be operated on, it would most likely spread the disease throughout my entire body.

Q: Have you looked into “Orphan Drug Designation”?
A: To the extent, I know I do not qualify.

Q: Have you looked into “Right to try drugs”?
A: Yes, I have looked into right to try drugs which means that if you have a terminal diagnosis, you may gain access to trial drugs that are in Phase 1 FDA trial specific to the type of diagnosis you have. Although there is a pathway to gain access, there are currently no drugs being researched by the FDA for triple negative metastatic breast cancer that I am interested in trying. Equally, the process to access the drugs is quite complex and often requires biopsies and other procedures.

Q: Have you tried to get an assessment for the Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber with Samaritan Health? (The local medical group in my area)
A: Yes, I was referred to the clinic for wound care by my oncologist. My appointment was canceled and I was never assessed because I do not qualify. However, I met directly with the MD of the clinic along with an RN who were very kind and compassionate. They offered a detailed explanation of why I do not qualify to use the chamber, this included literature. Even if my mass was completely open and ulcerated, I would still not qualify. There are strict guidelines on who can have access, typically it relates to diabetic wound care.  

Q: Does your oncologist support your treatment choices?
A: Yes, my oncologist respects and supports my treatment choices, he is extremely compassionate, encouraging, and supportive.

Q: Will you keep doing chemotherapy?
A: I am making this decision week by week. For now, I believe it is in my best interest to continue with low dose chemotherapy infusions.

Q: Is it hard for you to lose your hair again?
A: Nope, not really. It is a part of my journey that I have embraced and accepted five years ago. Plus, being bald is kind of cool.

Q: Is it scary to have your diagnosis?
A: I do not think it is scary, I just look at it differently – this is part of my journey and an opportunity to learn more about myself as I grow as an individual.

Q: Do you think you will really use Death with Dignity?
A: I am not sure. What I do know is that everything is in place to utilize DWD if I so choose. What I will say it that I am unwilling to suffer unnecessarily. I too am unwilling to watch my family and friends watch me suffer.   

Q: Does your family support your treatment choices and the way you are walking your journey?
A: Absolutely!

Well that’s all of the questions I could think of that have recently came my direction. Again, thank you to everyone that is walking this journey with me. Yes it is filled with twists and turns but it sure has been a great ride! Love to you all. Please continue sending prayer and healing thoughts and energy my direction. 


Today, I am hopeful~


I continue to utilize alternative modalities in combination with western medicine, a majority of which is not covered by medical insurance. If you would like to offer financial support you can mail donations to the address listed below or make a direct donation at your local Selco Credit Union. Every dollar donated goes directly towards my treatment.


Mailing donations:
Christina Garrett
PO Box 192
Philomath, Oregon 97370

Selco Credit Union Direct Deposit: "Team Christina"


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