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.