Christina is a woman with an adrenaline addiction. She lives for adventure! “Stina” is also a singer/songwriter, devoted mother, full-time employee and the Director of Team Development for World Missions at her church. Christina has been a short-term missionary for many years and has a passion to help those in need. She has traveled the globe since 1990 and taken several teams on short-term mission trips. Christina has led humanitarian aid and mission teams in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Germany, England, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia (before it was Czech Republic) and Africa. She has also worked in the public school system since 2000, which is a mission field of its own.
In 2007, her husband “Spike” was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma….cancer. While it was a life-changing event, she tried to keep life as normal as possible, especially for her children. She continued to work full-time while still doing her best to fulfill the responsibilities of a mother and was also her husband’s #1 caregiver. The year her husband was diagnosed with cancer, she was already scheduled to take a team to Africa. Spike was doing pretty well, so they both agreed that she should still lead the team. The trip was amazing and challenging all at the same time.
While in Africa, Stina and Spike would send emails telling how great things were going; however, Christina had been struggling in Africa spiritually (there is a lot of witchcraft in the villages she visited) and she had also been injured on the field. There was not a hospital near the remote villages so being certified in CPR/AED and First Aid, Christina splinted her broken foot herself and continued walking several miles daily to villages to help those in need. Back home, Spike was struggling physically with the new cancer treatments. Neither of them wanted the other to worry while they were apart but when she returned home, the truth of both of their struggles was revealed. It was decided at that moment, that world travel and mission work would have to be put on hold. They both continued to train, send and debrief teams as much as they could. But, in 2009, all mission work had been shelved as Spike’s cancer progressed rather quickly and he had to have a second bone marrow transplant. Spike and her children became her full-time mission.
Christina used her administrative gifting to research everything about Multiple Myeloma, went to every appointment with lists of questions and documented Spike’s health patterns (because every patient is different). She knew every side effect of every treatment and pushed doctors to find answers when needed. Christina was now a full-time caregiver and defender for her husband’s life.
After 9 years of committing herself to do everything possible to help keep her husband alive…..the battle ended and Spike crossed the finish line. On January 6, 2016, Christina became a widow. Now as she tries to find another new normal, she is telling her story, from the perspective of the caregiver, wife and mother. “I feel the need to advocate for the caregivers and family members of those battling an illness” said Christina. “There are hundreds of books and references for the patients, but there was no one to walk the caregiver and family through the journey. We learned that cancer was a don’t ask, don’t tell disease so if we weren’t asking questions, we weren’t being told anything. We learned more from other patients than we did doctors. No one could hold my hand and prepare me for the things we went through. Spike did wonders for the study of medicine, because if anything could go wrong, it did. It became normal for the doctors to tell us this was the first time they’ve dealt with this issue with Multiple Myeloma. I was alone….searching my way through the unknown. I had no one to ask questions to because Spike was one of the youngest patients with this disease. We were the youngest ones in the chemo room….so there was no one that could relate directly to me/us.”
Now, Stina is sharing their story in hopes that it helps other families facing a battle and feel like they are alone. This is her story, from the perspective of a caregiver, wife, mother….and now, widow.