Friends and neighbors have rallied to aid the popular Welch-Gillis, a Quincy native who married her college sweetheart last summer despite being stricken with an advanced form of colon cancer.
"Christine's a special person," said fellow CSOM technology consultant Robert Destefano, who is overseeing the drive. "Here's a girl who would never complain, who would smile every day. She's a phenomenal person."
Her colleagues have fanned across the BC campus selling $10 tickets to the raffle, and flyers advertising the benefit have appeared in shop windows throughout her hometown Squantum neighborhood in Quincy.
"You can't go anywhere without seeing Christine's picture," said Destefano.
The May 3 drawing will be held in the atrium of Fulton Hall. Donated prizes include laptop and desktop computers, Red Sox tickets, golf outings and a football autographed by Chicago Bears great Gale Sayers. All proceeds will go to defray costs associated with Welch-Gillis' battle with cancer. Tickets are available in Fulton 556 or from any of the 22 technology consultants assigned to departments around Boston College.
Diagnosed with the disease a year ago, Welch-Gillis has since undergone several operations, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. She is being treated at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and is to start a trial drug regimen in May, according to Destefano.
Last May, two weeks after being told her cancer was at an advanced stage and had spread to her lungs and vertebrae, Welch-Gillis was married to Noel Murrill Gillis, whom she had dated since they had met as freshmen at Providence College. They celebrate their first anniversary on May 28.
Her husband, an engineer, has left his job to spend time at home. For Christmas, her parents gave the couple tickets for a belated honeymoon trip to Disney World in Florida, where the two were vacationing last week.
While acknowledging she faces an uphill fight, Welch-Gillis displays good cheer and an intrepid spirit on her personal World Wide Web page.
"Stage Four colon cancer patients do not have a good chance of surviving to the five year mark - only 5 percent survive to that point," she writes in an online essay. "I am determined to be a member of this elite group.
"Although I am still going through treatment, I am considered a cancer survivor," she continues. "I realize the most important things in life are Noel, my parents, my family and friends. It is quite unusual for a 25-year old to get colon cancer, never mind metastasized colon cancer. It is hard to think about life-and-death issues when everyone else your age is planning for the future or partying.
"Ya, life is unfair. But, I will be well again. Noel and I will go to Hawaii (and Ireland and Niagara Falls and Chicago and Austria). My goal is to live one hour longer than Noel. Since Noel is very healthy, it seems like I have alot of living to do!"
Her colleagues consider the benefit raffle the least they could do for their friend.
Destefano, who said he considers Welch-Gillis "almost a daughter," recalled the cheerful approach she took to her job answering calls from faculty and staff across campus for computer assistance.
"She'd field dozens of calls every day," he said. "Here's a girl with two phones on each ear, but she was never too busy to smile."
For more information, contact Bob Destefano at ext.2-6319 or see the raffle Web site.
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