You wouldn’t know Cristina Boudah was sick by her bubbly personality. Perhaps her five children help her forget she’s supposed to slow down, but most who meet her account her positive demeanor to something more divine.
Cristina was nine months pregnant when she felt a lump on her right breast. She initially accounted the mass to blocked ducts, but 12 weeks after giving birth, Cristina had a biopsy performed to be sure. On July 2010, Cristina was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer – the same disease her mother, Vivian Nelson, battled a decade earlier.
As knee–bucking as the word “terminal” sounded, Cristina faced her affliction like a warrior. She remembered reading 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 in her Bible, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God.” When most would ask for alleviation of disease, Cristina asked her church family at Twickenham Church of Christ to give thanks for her cancer. Cristina’s faith in God’s purpose became stronger than her cancer.
Cristina admits her hardest struggle is missing out on her children’s daily lives. “The younger ones want to know why mommy can’t do what she used to do, like go to soccer games or school plays,” she lamented. “That part is hard because to them, I’m still Mom.” Despite Cristina’s limitations, she hasn’t been absent of help. Immediately following her diagnosis, Cristina’s church family scheduled five months of at-home meal delivery, community members arrived to help clean her home, and strangers from out of state sent her words of encouragement in the mail.
Cristina’s vibrant zest for life remains unabated by cancer, and her positive outlook was recently mirrored with positive news. The largest mass in her lungs, previously 6.2 centimeters, shrank 2 centimeters and 50 percent in volume. For her garden, Cristina selected purple and white peonies; purple to represent February (her mother’s birth month), and white to represent hope. Sage is planted for its reminiscent smell of her grandmother’s cooking, and pink tulips will bloom in spring as a symbol for a breast cancer cure.
Cristina’s family includes her husband Donald and her five children: Cameron, Jason, Emma, Levi, and Phoebe. When asked what she wanted her garden visitors to remember, Cristina responded, “It’s okay to cry about your situation, but it’s not okay to stay there. Remember you’re living with cancer; you aren’t dying from it.”