"I just brought Christopher up saying that there are so many things out there to do, we don't have time to be sick, we don't have time to worry," she said. "I guess that was my encouragement, that don't be afraid, there are a lot of fun things out there to do."
As a result of Christopher's many surgeries, he suffered from hearing loss, and is learning-disabled. In 1995, he graduated from high school. Because of his hearing impairment, his speech is often slurred, or can be difficult to understand.
"Right now I play sports with my family, I used to take karate when I was younger," he said. "I like a good fight."
On the streets in his hometown of Philadelphia, friends said, he greets everyone like they're family, for which he's earned a special nickname: Mayor of South Street.
"He was introduced as the Mayor of South Street because that's what everyone called him," friend Ashley Andrien said. "I thought he, like, owned South Street or something."
On the basketball court, Christopher, who'll turn 34 Monday, doesn't sit on the sidelines, making three-pointers and rising to the challenge of competition.
"He's gotta be one of the toughest people I know," friend Jaime Carr said. "Everything he's been through and he hangs out with us and plays sports and hang out and party it up like a normal person. It's shocking."
Although Christopher recently lost his job of 12 years at a pipe/tube construction company because of layoffs, he said he wants to give back, volunteering at the same children's hospital that helped him survive.
"I just wanna be a good person," he said. "I just wanna work and help out with my family."