Remembering Christina Franks
KNOX — Christina Franks, a former Knox Middle School student, touched the hearts of not only her community, but people all over the country. This is her story.
"Christina was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in July 2011. Two years after she was diagnosed, she was admitted to Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis, where the family learned that her left ventricle was failing," said Christina's mom, Cheryl Hollman.
Hollman said the doctors opted for surgery to help relieve some of the stress on her daughter's heart.
"The following month, Christina underwent surgery for an exterior pump, which took the work off of her heart. This was a bridge to a heart transplant. A couple of weeks later, complications landed Christina back in surgery for a pacemaker and defibrillator," Hollman said.
Christina was listed on the heart transplant list — but that changed quickly as her condition steadily worsened.
"After the surgery, Christina had a stroke which affected her movement in her arms and legs and her speech. She never fully recovered from the first stroke. and in November of 2013, she had another stroke. This stroke affected Christina's brain and also removed her from consideration on the heart transplant list," Hollman said.
The following month, new complications arose.
"In December of 2013, Christina had yet another surgery. This one was to replace the exterior pump because a large blood clot had developed," Hollman said.
Initially, Christina's family was told that surgery was too risky.
"Two weeks prior to the surgery, we were told the surgery would not be done due to Christina's heart being too weak to pump on its own. In the end, the surgery was performed and Christina had to have CPR the entire time it took to change the pump," Hollman said.
Christina faced each complication and surgery with bravery. However, Hollman said Christina's surgeon learned of one thing that caused Christina fear.
"For seven months, Christina fought a hard battle. But she told her surgeon her greatest fear was to be forgotten because she was so far away from home," Hollman said.
Christina lost her fight Saturday, Feb. 8, but she continues to live on in the hearts of all who love her.
Memories of Christina can be shared on a Facebook site that was set up to pray for Christina and her family, to offer words of encouragement, to pray for a miracle, and to share Christina's story with the world.
More than 2600 people followed Christina's journey on the site — some shared inspirational quotes, poems, and photos, many shared prayers — and others told Christina she would always be remembered.
"Christina it was very hard to say goodbye, one last time, to you today. You touched my heart and life so much. I just can't believe you're gone — but I know you're with your Lord and savior Jesus Christ and that comforts me. I love you, Christina. You may be gone, but you will never be forgotten in my heart. RIP sweetheart," said Amanda Paradis, a former Knox High School student.
Christina is remembered as being a happy, positive young lady.
"Christina looked so beautiful today; she was always so positive about life and smiling. It was hard seeing her knowing she is really gone — but I know that she is watching over us. We will see you again someday. You will NEVER be forgotten, always will be in our hearts," said Heather Mueting, of Naperville, Ill.
Projects in honor of Christina sprung up all over the community: Area businesses decorated their windows in tribute to Christina's life. A Knox Middle School teacher worked on completing a project that was special to Christina.
"We read a book called Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes in my class — we just finished it this week. It was Christina's favorite book last year. She got really interested in folding the paper cranes. We were trying to get 1000 cranes to send to Japan to put around the Sadako statue (she's a real girl who died of leukemia 10 years after the end of WWII, as a result of the atom bomb, on Peace Day Aug. 6. Last year, we got to 700, but were unable to finish. I promised Christina last year that we would finish it this year! So, my students are finishing them in honor of Christina — and they're calling them Christina's cranes. They are determined to get the 1000! Many of the kids have started writing her name on them. I didn't tell them to do that," said Amie Flora, Christina's former teacher at Knox Middle School.
A young girl who was afraid of being forgotten inspired so many to share the many reasons why that fear could never be true.
"Christina had a smile for everyone. She took everything she was given as if someone handed her a bouquet of flowers. I am so blessed to say that I know Christina Franks. She gave me so many little gifts along the way, not only the duct-tape flower that sat on my register in the Knox Middle School kitchen, or the animal key chains I bought from her, that have always hung from my bowling bag, or the frog magnets that have been on my refrigerator, for I don't know how long — she gave me her trust, her friendship, her love. I am blessed to say, that I know Christina Franks," said Robin Kajer, of Knox.
Christina's parents recently found a special testimony written by Christina, after she learned of her illness, that they want to share.
"To my heavenly Father, my God and Savior, life is full of sins and pain; but you may wonder why I ask, 'Why me?' so much and 'What do you have planned for me?' I want to be able to do what you did when they killed you on the cross, forgiving those who did you wrong. Lord, I believe you are real and that you are always with me. Please forgive me and all who have done wrong to me. Lord heal me of illnesses in my body and forgive me of my sins, Love Christina."
Christina was a member of the New Hope Baptist Church and was an 8th grade student at Knox Middle School. She was a Knox Middle School cheerleader and was in the choir. Christina enjoyed making crafts.
She is survived by her mother, Cheryl Hollman and her father, Richard Franks Sr., both of Knox, two brothers: Christopher Franks and Richard (Danielle) Franks, Jr., both of Knox, one sister, Ashley Franks of Evansville and grandparents: Robert (Anna Blasioli) Hollman of Dunedin, Fla. She was laid to rest in Oak Park Cemetery, in Knox, Saturday, Feb. 15, at 11a.m.
Christina's fan page can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/groups/589578041135937/ and memorials can be made to the family at www.youcaring.com enter Christina Franks in search.