Hello Blog Land Friends!
If you are a reader of my blog and I know it (ie, when I went private you sent me an e mail asking for an invite), you should have gotten an e mail from me a couple of days ago about a dear friend and co-worker of mine.
I never send things out in mass like that, it's just not something that I do. But I did in this case because this is important. In case you didn't read the 2nd email or just thought I was forwarding something on to you, let me tell you about the Chastain Family
Karis is my dear dear friend. I have known her for 3 years now. We work together. But she's more than just someone I work with, she's my friend. A good friend. She is by far the sweetest, most kind person one will ever meet. Hands down. She has such a giving and sweet sweet spirit. She has helped me and my family on more than one occasion in big ways. She has a laugh that is infectious and can be heard and recognized from several rooms away. She is just a happy person.
Karis was married when she was younger, she had two boys, now 19 and 14. About 6 or 7years ago, she divorced due to a not great situation with her first husband. She was then a single mom for several years. She dated on and off and at the begining of 2007 met her now husband, Craig. The connection was immediate and they were married just a few short months later. I planned and photographed their small intimate ceremony.
Craig is a police officer at a local police department. He has been with the PD for 11 years. He was named Officer of the Year last year at his PD. The year prior he was nominated for the Arkansas Attorney Generals Award of Officer of the Year. He is good at what he does and he cares about this community and the people in it. Craig is also, or was, a runner. He ran almost everyday, he was in great shape. He trained for marathons and was overall a healthy guy.
Karis does what I do and has done it for five long years. Because of her sweet sweet spirit, she is great at interviewing the children we come across. They love her, she puts them at such ease. Again, she is seriously one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet. She can't say a harsh word to anyone, she is incapable of it. Regardless of how someone may make her feel, she will be kind to them, and it's genuine, she doesn't fake it.
In mid-September Craig was to run in the Tulsa Marathon. He had been training and was going to be able to run it with no problems. Halfway through he had to quit. He was in pain and felt too weak to continue. He went to the doctor and they found a hernia. He was scheduled to have surgery at the end of October. Time went by and his pain became increasingly worse, he was retaining fluid and was very uncomfortable. He went to the doctor a few times and had fluid drained and they just kept telling him it was the hernia and that the surgery would fix it. (the top photo was taken the day before he ran the marathon)
The day before he was to have the hernia surgery, he went for a pre-op CT scan and they found a large mass in his abdomen. The mass was said to be malignant cancer. In the next weeks they didn't get many answers. The doctors here wouldn't tell them what kind of cancer, how far along it was or anything else. They wanted to cut him open and do exploratory surgery. Obviously Karis and Craig didn't think this was the best idea, so they consulted the Cancer Treatment Center in Chicago. They went there for an evaluation in mid November. They were told it was a rare form of Sarcoma. It wasn't until last week that they were told this news. This week they learned the cancer is at a Stage 4 and there isn't much that can be done. They have been offered hospice care when they return home.
Last week my co-workers and I decided we needed to do something bigger than taking them meals, as we had been doing. We began to brainstorm and we came up with the Chili Supper and Raffle as a fundraiser. Aside from the medical expenses, that are expensive (his pain meds are over 1,000.00), they incur huge travel expenses everytime they have to travel to and from Chicago for care.
I've set up a "Chip In" page for people who want to give online. You can do so using a paypal account. There is a link on the top left of my blog. So far we've raised over 100.00! Thank you if you've already given! While I realize that it is Christmas time and that things are tight for most already right now, any amount you feel led to give will be appreciated and will go STRAIGHT to this family. We're not using any of the donated funds to pay for the dinner, all of that is being covered by myself and my co-workers, so that each dollar donated can go to this family
Feel free to e mail me if you have questions--If you are in the area and can come to the dinner, please do. We'll have several nice items to raffle off--raffle tickets will be sold at the dinner. Some things we will have are: photo shoot, pottery, gift cards, razorback itmes, jewelry and more
Thank you for your support!! Please pass this along to anyone you feel might be able to help. I have seen people in this blog world rally together to help those they have never met. I hope that some of you will do that here.
If you are a person that prays, please do pray for this situation.
UPDATE 12/15/08: Craig and Karis returned from Chicago on Sunday. Craig is not strong enough to receive any type of treatment at this time. The doctors have given him about a 20% chance of getting strong enough to endure treatment. So right now he is at home and they have home health care to help Karis. Right now, it is just a matter of making him comfortable and managing his pain. Karis doesn't seem to think it's going to be long now. The doctors have said he has around 2-4 months, but Karis doesn't know if he'll make it that long. I spoke with Karis on Friday night and we just cried on the phone together. She is taking it as well as she can, but she is understandably shattered in a million pieces. Anyway, please continue to pray for them. Thank you.
UPDATE: 12/27/2008: Criag passed away on Christmas morning just before 10am. Please continue to pray for this family. Thank you again for your support!