Tuesday, July 10, 2007

How I Found Heroes

Thanks for the great welcome to HFC! I am so excited to begin my career with HFC! I found the organization online last winter and immediately knew I had to work for them. As soon as I read HFC’s mission, I was hooked.

In May of 2003, one of my best friends from High School, Kira, was diagnosed with AML. Her college physical blood work found the leukemia. She was immediately sent to Charlottesville for treatment and was in and out of the hospital for the remainder of her senior year. She didn’t even get to walk across the stage because she was undergoing treatment. Her father wore her gown and walked across the stage with her cap that proudly stated “Kira’s Dad”. My mom called her on the phone when her name was about to be called out so she could hear the principal call her name and the resounding standing ovation. After graduation, a few of us drove to Charlottesville to throw Kira her own graduation in the hospital. I spent the summer spending time with Kira either in Charlottesville or her home.

In the fall, I traveled to Houston to attend Rice University. It seemed like they had the Leukemia under control. I went back to Virginia in October for Fall Break and spent time with Kira. She was so upset during the fall because she was supposed to be in college like the rest of her friends. Her new chapter in life consisted of hospital stays and chemotherapy, not interesting college classes and new friends.

In November, she was sent to Seattle for a bone marrow transplant. However, when she arrived in Seattle the doctors told her the leukemia had progressed too much and a bone marrow transplant was not possible. The doctors told her she not be able to make the flight home, but she would have none of that. She begged and pleaded for them to fly her home. She flew from Seattle to Virginia and I immediately caught a flight from Houston to Virginia. She made the flight and began hospice care at home. I spent the next week at her side helping her parents take care of her. It was the most heart-wrenching experience. I could just see the life being sucked out of her little by little. She stayed alive to say goodbye to all the people she cared about. One friend wasn’t able to come right away, but she was very important to Kira. Once her last friend arrived to say goodbye, Kira died a few hours later. She was surrounded by her 13 disciples. I will never forget seeing her take her last breath! She died six months after her diagnosis, just a few weeks before her 19th birthday.

That is what lead me to HFC. Jenny and Larissa lost their girls to AML and I lost Kira to AML. After her death, I decided I wanted to work for a non-profit that was cancer related. Here I am at HFC and I can’t wait to help HFC grow and succeed so it can help more and more families!

Things I learned while visiting Kira at the hospital.
~ Laptops really do make a difference
~Crosswords puzzles and books are boring after a while
~Hanging coloring pictures on the wall is good thing to get people out of bed- Kira loved the Disney princesses (Cindarella)so I gave her crayons and a coloring book and her mom taped them on the wall so Kira would get out of bed and color
~Remembering milestones is huge, like birthdays and graduations!


Lisa said...

Your post made me cry- what a wonderful friend you were to Kira. I think HFC is lucky to have you. Welcome aboard. Lisa

Erin said...

WELCOME CHRISTI!! Thank you for sharing the story of you and Kira. What a wonderful friend you are!

christy said...

Your post was a beautiful tribute to Kira. I'm sure she's absolutely proud of you!!!

I look forward to working with you on all the exciting events HFC has in the works this year :)

Debbie said...

Welcome Christi!!! I know Jenny and Larissa and Cheryl are so excited to have you here working with them, finally!! Your story is truly inspirational! And I know that your friend. Kira, is watching you and applauding daily. HFC is truly blessed to have you working with them. I know you are going to have a fabulous time!!

Tracy said...

You were a true friend to Kira. How very lucky she was to have you in her life. And now, all of the families that come to HFC are lucky to have you on their side. You are going to be a great addition to the powerhouses in charge of this great organization. I can't wait to watch HFC grow.