In all the struggles that I see around me, sometimes I feel the pressing need to share them with others. This week, I am presenting a “spotlight” of a family who I have watched struggle through trials that would bring down lesser mortals. Thanks to Christina for providing the information and her permission for producing this. If you feel so moved, please consider donating to help her and her husband with their rising medical costs.
Life has a way of bringing out the worst all at once. “Oh, one struggle isn’t enough? Here, have some more!” Is there ever a point when enough is enough? Not for most, and certainly not for one family from Bossier City, Louisiana. In 2007, Christina Pinckard’s life changed dramatically when doctors discovered a grapefruit-sized tumor in her husband’s leg. But that was only the latest in a series of blows this family would receive – and the battle wasn’t done yet.
Life was never easy for Christina. Growing up, she lived under slurs like dumb, retarded, and stupid. And with no reason not to, she couldn’t help but agree with them. Depression set in from an early age, and she had trouble finding worth in herself. An autism diagnosis as an adult helped her receive some validation, giving her the tools necessary to combat the voices she heard.
Christina has two boys, ages 13 and 19. When they were three and five years old, respectively, both boys were diagnosed with autism. The older child is more high-functioning, but both have their specific class of special needs. The older boy, Michael, can help out around the house and moderately care for himself, but the youngest is not fully potty trained – a common struggle in autistic households. Matthew has frequent meltdowns, not understanding why he is sometimes treated the way he is. Most of it is a lack of understanding, but Matthew sees it as everyone hating him for the way he is.
As if autism struggles weren’t bad enough (and anyone who’s dealt with it can tell you it’s a load all on its own!), the cancer diagnosis only added to it. The tumor turned out to be a Myxoid Lyposarcoma, a rare and aggressive soft-tissue cancer. A surgery removed the tumor, along with about 90% of the hamstring that the tumor had attached itself to. However, in 2009, the tumor made its reappearance – and four more times after that. The last three jumped the hamstring ship and appeared in the spinal cord, making them even more difficult to remove.
The tumor’s growth impaired his ability to walk or stand. His wife, not more than 130lbs, couldn’t lift him, and after he fell three separate times in a single week, he made the necessary but wrenching decision to check into a nursing home, where he hopes to be able to continue to fight his cancer and heal so he can rejoin his family.
Despite all this, and even in spite of her depression, Christina fights to keep her optimism high. She pours her vivid imagination into the books she writes, creating a world of fantasy and color. With the impending loss of her husband’s income, she took up crafting, putting together gorgeous trinkets and pieces of jewelry that she sells on Etsy. She has been exceptionally helpful in creating “swag” for other authors, in the form of key chains and other pieces that depict promotional material. Her pride and joy, however, are the fantasy pieces she creates, ones that reflect the world that spills over into her books. Dragons are especially prominent. She can also be found on Fiverr.
In every setback, Christina finds herself with a choice: to give up, or to pursue forward. In the end, fighting both depression and opposition from those around her, she presses on, refusing to give up on either herself or her family. Her material accomplishments are nothing compared to the battles she’s faced and the progress she’s made not only for herself, but also for those she loves.