Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Christina would have called her annual update

       Christina died one year ago today June 15, 2010. Those of you who have followed this blog know she put up a valiant and courageous fight. We all miss our wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher.
       Here is a summary of her last few months – a health update as she would have done – but with my limited knowledge. Her last medical update was March of 2010. She did have her PET scan and an MRI. While the MRI brought good news – no new brain tumors – the PET scan was not as good. The cancer had grown in her lungs and had also spread into her bones. She and her Doctor agreed on a new chemotherapy . And she began her fight anew. She did decide to slow down a little, and asked Terri of Mindful Motion Yoga for a sabbatical, though she continued to teach yoga in other places it was a less strenuous schedule.
       Greg was scheduled to deploy, but again the Navy supported them both and allowed – even encouraged him to stay with his wife till the news was better. Greg was a constant support to her throughout all their years together, but especially for those two months until the next PET scan.
       In those two months, she developed what she thought was Pneumonia, that stayed with her for most of May. She went to the hospital for it in June, it turned out it wasn’t pneumonia, but they were sure what was causing her to have problems breathing. She was able to go home after about a week, they even let her take oxygen with her. That week she also had her regularly scheduled PET scan and MRI. The news on both counts wasn’t good. The cancer continued to spread even into the liver, also the MRI showed tumors in her brain again.
       After this it all went so very fast. She found out this news on Thursday and Friday (June 10 and 11). Saturday she talked about a new chemo, Sunday she returned to the hospital with breathing problems. Greg spoke to her Doctor on Monday, getting a more full report of her health from the scans. The Doctor said that Christina had 2 week to 2 months of life left and he put it closer to 2 weeks. Tuesday morning about 1 am Greg called Moma and Daddy and me and told them to come now. She died at 5:30 that morning.
       We are all incredibly grateful for the 4 ½ years she was able to continue her life. Christina was such a great example of living her life to the fullest. She developed the life she wanted, became the person she wanted over those years. She was full of light and shared that with many. In the end, it was blessedly fast – as much as we wish she could have stayed with us longer, we are happy that her suffering was not prolonged.

 Many people poured out there love to us the days following her death. We were blessed to gain a deeper insight into Christina’s live in Jacksonville through her friends there.

Matthew 5 (NIV)
14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
       This scripture was read at the Memorial held in Neptune Beach at the First Christian Church of the Beaches. Assistant Pastor James Collins led this beautiful service. Her friends and family were allowed to speak as they were moved. In true Christina fashion it was an uplifting experience. Her friends gave us wonderful glimpses into her light – some highlights was her love each, her deep caring, her ability to focus on you, her smile. We had a wonderful potluck at the Church thanks to Pam and other friends of Christina, here the love for her continued to be pour out on us her family. Many thanks to Pam for all her help with this service.
       The next week the Christian Meditation Center in Neptune Beach had a meditation in honor of Christina. Christina had been a regular visitor and volunteer for just under a year. After the meditation, again her friends shared what she meant to them, her ability to really listen seemed truly to stand out. A pink crape myrtle was also planted at the Christian Meditation Center in Neptune Beach in her honor.
       As you know from earlier post Christina had been an active member of the Sea Turtle Patrol until recently. The Beaches Sea Turtle dedicated a nest to Christina, it is a Leatherback nest that produce a lot of eggs, like 60 – I will post pictures later.
      The memorial in Tallahassee was held in beautiful St. John’s Episcopal Church, The Reverend Phoebe McFarlin presided. Several of her friends were kind enough to read and speak. Linda Palmer read Psalm 121 and Angie Raines read Matthew 5:14-16. Three friends of Christina’s throughout the years then shared their memories and love of Christina. Shelby Kennerly Augustyniak who has know Christina for over 30 years started us out. We then heard from Lori. Lori Kirschler Peterson was Christina’s roommate at Flagler and then University of Georgia and continued their friendship. Pam Allan was the last of Christina’s friend to speak. Pam became a friend of Christina in Neptune Beach. She began with words from Terri at Mindful Motion Yoga and finished off with her own experiences with Christina. I will try and post their talks later.

Christina's Obituary

      Christina Phipps, of Neptune Beach, died of breast cancer Tuesday, June 15.  She was 45.
      When her cancer recurred three years ago, she stepped aside from her career as a personal chef and began providing yoga instruction for cancer survivors and persons still suffering from the disease. By 2009, she had expanded her classes to as many as three a day and was selected the area’s “best yoga instructor” by Jacksonville Magazine. She remained an active instructor until two weeks of her death.
      Christina Phipps, a native of Tallahassee attended Flagler College in St. Augustine where she studied graphic arts. She received her bachelor’s degree in telecommunications arts from the University of Georgia.
      After a brief stint with the Florida Association of Broadcasters, she worked in Governor’s Martinez’s office. After his administration, she worked in the Florida Department of Agriculture’s “Fresh from Florida” program serving under Ginny Herrema who had been the head chef at the Governor’s Mansion.
     She came to the Jacksonville area as a special events and promotions coordinator for the Florida Lottery. When Jeb bush became Governor she launched her career as a personal chef. She appeared frequently on TV Channel 4 and was a food columnist for Jacksonville Beach Examiner until her death.
     She met Gregory Crum in 1997, and they were married at Wakulla Springs in January 2000. After a brief resistance to his Navy career, she became his most insistent and enthusiastic supporter as he rose through the ranks to Chief Petty Officer. In January 2009, he left enlisted ranks and became a commissioned officer. He is assigned to the USS Taylor out of Mayport as an engineering officer. He was at her side when she died.
     Best known for her sparkling effervescence, she was the personification of vivaciousness. Despite all the setbacks of her cancer, her good cheer and enthusiasm and her refusal to give in to the disease was an inspiration to everyone. Even her doctors and nurses wept at her passing.
     In addition to her husband, she is survived by her sister, Jarrett Phipps (Roark James – her husband), and her parents Phyllis and Ben Phipps, all of Tallahassee. Donations in memory of Christina may be given to the Christina Phipps Foundation. The foundation trains instructors in yoga therapy for cancer patients and survivors and others with disabilities. It also assists those unable to pay for such instruction. Send the donations to 411 Florida Boulevard, Neptune Beach, Florida 32266.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pictures tell the stories....

Greg and I celebrated our 10th Anniversary this year - January 8th!  Here we are at Wakulla Springs!

i was lucky enough to be chosen as a model for an "In the Pink" fundraiser - it was so much fun and an honor!!  photo taken by heather hixon - renaissance healing
Terri and all the amazing yogis and yoginis from Mindful Motion Yoga put together a couple of amazing events for Making Strides and for Team Christina! Thanks to everyone - it was BEAUTIFUL!!  that's me in the middle! 

Shelby - who i have known since she was born!  - came over from Tallahassee with her amazing Mom, Brooke - and ran the Donna Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer in my honor with her awesome friends!
Congratulations to all of you!

What a great shirt!!!! And I got to see her go by right near my house on mile marker 18!  It was so cool to be able to cheer her on and give her a hug!!

An incredible group of ladies from my Queen's Harbour fitness center classes have been supporting me for awhile.  They trained hard for the half Donna Marathon - and were kind enough to add my classes to their training regimen.  They finished with ease and then surprised me at the end of class with an Olympic type ceremony (it was during the olympics!!) where Karen, Judy, Pam and Sue all came up and placed their hard-earned medals around my neck.  It was very moving and emotional - and so surprising.   I was completely touched and felt empowered by their love and support and from all of my amazing friends at QH!  I cannot thank you enough!  p.s. they also gave me that great hat and bag!! 
I had the amazing opportunity to work with Terri at Mindful Motion Yoga on training yoga teachers in february of 2010!  What a blessing they all are - such an inspiring and fun group of friends and yoga teachers!  Jaime, Terri, Valerie, Elaine, Deborah, Hope, Euboea and Chelsea!

my original yoginis who have been with me since the start of my yoga career - and, more importantly stuck with me and watched me grow SO much!!  have also been through this other journey with me - sticking around, suppporting, laughing - being just what i need.  speaking of is a care package for our trip to St.Martin!! beach towels and sunscreen - perfect - can't wait to (safely) soak up some sun!!
The inspiration and support continues from my originals - or now known as my Church yogis and yoginis because we are lucky enough to gather at the First Christian Church of the Beaches for yoga each week!  This beautiful meaningful plaque was signed on the back by everyone (love you guys so much!) and the Sea Turtle mirror just compliments it perfectly....they both came from "In the Pink." Thank you all so much for making me feel special, loved, strong, human and worthy!!  and thanks so much to Greg for hanging them!!
Finally a big thanks to my friends at the Fresh Market for all of their help during my demos - thanks so much Wendy, William, Joanna, Leanne, Maureen, Joe, Marca, Carlos and everyone.  Thank you too for the beautiful Begonia and card!!  A BIG thank you to Rick for making a special trip out just to see if you could help - and you brought me this precious bear and miniature pink rose - you are too much....especially going through this battle yourself...but, you look great and together we will be strong and fight this stuff!!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Annual update on health status

As i was revisiting and updating my blog, i realized it has been over a year now that i posted my health status.  There have been lots of changes and hurdles - high highs and low lows - but, all in all i am still surrounded by an amazing community of supportive friends and family - i feel i am so not worthy - but, i am truly - TRULY blessed and blown away everday by all of thank you!!  words cannot express the level of thanks i send out.....

So, on to the update.....we left off in january of last year....gonna try to keep this brief because i am typing one-handed (left) these days.  Continued chemo - Avastin and Abraxane - january through May. May scans showed growth in the right lung lymph node - so we decided to let the new steriotactic radiation machine - Novalis or NTX - have a go at it.  Chemo continued... but, just the abraxane.

july scans showed activity in my left third rib and a lymph node in my sternum area - so, NTX to the rescue again in August.  Stopped chemo since it had clearly run its course.

September, i found out that i had developed a staph infection in my port....luckily no hospital visits, but LOTS of blood cultures.  Finally got that puppy removed in early October.

Scans in november showed growth back in the right lung lymph node, so - Dr. Dees and i decided on Xeloda - a chemo drug in pill form - AWESOME!!

Brain scans in December showed swelling around original brain tumor that was gamma knifed in 12/08.  the tumor is necrotic (dead) but, irritates surrounding tissue in the brain and causes swelling - which hinders use of my right arm, hand, etc.  So, i started on steroids (Decadron) and, by Christmas thought i would go crazy.  i went off the steroids and back is a battle to try to find the right balance between the side effects and the benefits to the use of my right side.

Another brain MRI in January found 7 new little, we gave NTX a try on them.  The MRI in February showed those areas resolved - but, unfortunately a number of new spots.  So, onto Whole brain radiation (WBR) - 17 treatments of a low dose.  Just finished that up March 12th and will wait a month for the next MRI. Lost my hair again....from follicle damage....but, fun new wigs.

Have PET scan planned for the end of March -- so, we will see how my Xeloda is doing.   Still on the steroids for the swelling in the left brain, not loving the moonface and many other side effects - but, hoping my mobility improves and soon!!

i think that is it for the medical - but, let me tell you - the year was full of so many great times and 2010 is shaping up to be another fabulous year!!!

next post will be all about those highlights!!!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Christina is the Jacksonville Beach Food Examiner

I have the pleasure nowadays of combining two of my loves - writing and food - on  For those of you who don't know, I majored in journalism at UGA and I was a personal chef in the beaches area from 2001-2009.  A third love that comes into play is my beach neighborhood.  It is so fun to write about local businesses and garner support for them - it is a win, win win!  Check it out and let me know what you think!

Jacksonville Beach Food Examiner - Christina Phipps

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yoga Schedule - 2010

Christina's Yoga Schedule - Updated 2010
5 p.m. - Gentle Yoga - Queen's Harbour
6:30 p.m. - All Levels - First Christian Church of the Beaches, NB (open to public)

9-10:15 a.m. - Gentle Yoga - Mindful Motion Yoga (open to public)
9-10 a.m. - Walk-n-Weights-n-Yoga - Queen's Harbour
10:15 a.m. - Gentle Yoga - Queen's Harbour
6-7:30 p.m. - Mind-Body Yoga, Community Ed - Fletcher High School
9-10:15 a.m. - Gentle Yoga - Mindful Motion Yoga (open to public)
5-6 p.m. - Gentler Yoga - First Christian Church of the Beaches, NB (open to public)
6:10 p.m. - 7:20 p.m. Multi-Level Yoga - First Christian Church of the Beaches, NB (open to public)

10:15 a.m. - Gentle Yoga - Queen's Harbour
5:30-6:45 p.m. - Gentle Yoga - Mindful Motion Yoga

contact christina for more information: