Ryan Christian sat near the front of the suite inside the DeSoto Civic Center, fidgeting with a crocheted hat that was a gift from a Missouri Mavericks fan. Ryan is the 8-year-old daughter of Missouri Mavericks all-star forward Jeff Christian. The Mavericks are playing in Southaven, Miss., where Game 2 of the Central Hockey League playoff series took place Wednesday evening.
Ryan Christian sat near the front of the suite inside the DeSoto Civic Center, fidgeting with a crocheted hat that was a gift from a Missouri Mavericks fan.
“She’s never really watched the games,” Ryan’s mother, Dorie Christian, said by phone Wednesday, “but she’s loved being with her daddy today.”
Ryan is the 8-year-old daughter of Missouri Mavericks all-star forward Jeff Christian. The Mavericks are playing in Southaven, Miss., where Game 2 of the Central Hockey League playoff series took place Wednesday evening.
Ryan and Dorie live just 20 minutes from Southaven in Memphis, Tenn., at the Target House, a long-term housing apartment complex that is part of St. Jude’s Hospital, where Ryan is being treated for a rare form of cancer.
And on this special day, the Christian family enjoyed spending most of the day together, and after all, isn’t that the best medicine an 8-year-old could ever receive?
Ryan’s plight has been well documented in The Examiner.
In mid-February, she experienced seizures due to hypertension. She was taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital, where she was diagnosed with Pediatric Adrenalcortical Carcinoma – a form of cancer that affects one in a million children in the United States.
Ryan was prepped for surgery and the tumor on her adrenal gland removed. The new scans and tests showed that the cancer was still present in Ryan’s blood and therefore chemo will be needed.
Ryan was able to return home following the surgery, but further tests showed blood clots in her lungs.
Because the family was considering a move to St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, this new discovery led to Dorie and Ryan taking a nine-hour trip in an ambulance to the facility known worldwide as one of the premier cancer centers for children.
“St. Jude’s has been wonderful, amazing, but we sure miss our home and friends back in Blue Springs and Independence,” Dorie said following the first period of action at the DeSoto Civic Center Wednesday. “When we found out that Jeff and the team was going to be playing down here, I called Tammy Landmesser (the wife of RiverKings defender Derek Landmesser) and asked her about tickets.
“The Landmessers have three girls – two of them are Ryan’s age – and she called back and said the team was giving us a suite for the game. That was such a generous gesture, but the gestures we have seen from so many people are just overwhelming.”
Jeff Christian took two sacks of hats – mostly pink, which is Ryan’s favorite color – down to St. Jude’s to give to his daughter. She picked a few favorites, and the rest were donated to the other children at the hospital.
“People we don’t even know are doing things for us that we just can’t believe,” Dorie said. “Some of the guys’ fiancées and girlfriends sent us videos of the auction that took place at the last (regular-season) game. We want to thank everyone – I wish we could thank them all in person – for what they have done for us.
“All the items that were donated to the auction, all the money that fans gave, just unbelievable. We just received $5,000 from the Allen Americans (a CHL team that also held an auction for the Christian family).”
Dorie is doing her best to maintain a family atmosphere for her daughter, even though she hasn’t been home for more than a month.
“We’re going to get through this, we really are,” Dorie said, as the action on the ice was about to begin. “It’s just so wonderful to have Jeff down here, and again, please thank everyone who has become such a big part of our lives.”