• The Christina Story

The Christina Story

This little girl taught big lessons

Even in pain, Christina Bowers, 10, never wavered in her faith.

The Orange County Register

Christina Bowers always knew she wanted to be a teacher.

What she didn't know was that she would, inadvertently, start teaching at the age of 10.

Or that she would never even reach her teens and that adults would marvel at what they had learned from this very young - and wise - little girl. She was one month shy of her 11th birthday when she died of cancer May 29.

Christina grew up in Seal Beach until two years ago, when her family moved to Huntington Beach. She was always an easy child, cheerful and undemanding. She smiled a lot, made friends easily, played with Barbie dolls and liked sports. She had a passion for music and even as a toddler would grab a broom and pretend it was a microphone, belting out praise songs she learned at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa in Santa Ana, where her family attends church.

From the time she was very young, she was at ease with herself and at peace with her world. She did well in school, led other kids in games, loved sleepovers and excelled in swimming, volleyball and gymnastics, as well as softball. She wanted to be wherever the action was.

She started playing Little League in Seal Beach and became an outstanding pitcher. She had a cool head and steady throwing arm that could shut down an opposing team with the bases loaded. A Yankees fan, she had a poster of slugger Jason Giambi on her closet door and watched every Yankees game.

Christina enjoyed near-perfect health until last August, when she started having terrible, migraine-like headaches. Some were so bad they knocked her unconscious. Around Thanksgiving, Christina was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, also known as PNET - an aggressive form of cancer that causes tumors of unknown origin in the brain and spine.

She would spend three-fourths of the next seven months in the hospital. Her treatment - chemotherapy and radiation - was rigorous and debilitating. She developed hideous sores in her mouth and throat and was often so weak she couldn't get out of bed. But she always found the strength to smile, giggle and compliment the nurses on what they were wearing. And when she was strong enough, she belted out songs on the hospital karaoke machine and always drew a crowd.

When she was diagnosed, she and her mother made a pact: They would never say, "Why me?" They could say, "Please heal me and use me," but could never ask why. They would leave it a mystery. God, they decided, must have had a pretty big plan for Christina. And Christina lived up to the deal. Through incredible pain and suffering, she never complained. She worried, instead, about her little brother, Teddy, who she feared wasn't getting enough attention. She asked after her classmates.

A couple of times, weak as she was, she managed to get to her team's softball games - once to throw the starting pitch at the beginning of the season. And she never lost her sense of humor. When a pastor of her church visited her in the hospital, she insisted on pitching to him in the corridor. When he took a turn at throwing the ball, Christina, often called "Zina" on her softball teams, laughed and told him that he threw the ball like a girl.

To a large extent, it was her faith in God that carried her through. She had, friends say, the joy of the Lord in her eyes. Her faith was unwavering and unmistakable. Once, when her mouth was so full of sores from chemotherapy she could barely talk, she told her mother, "Mom, thank you for bringing me into this world."

And one of her doctors, after visiting Christina in the hospital, said, after leaving the room, "Now, I can honestly say I have touched the face of Jesus."

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