Kate Finn (CeltGirl)

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Date: Tue, 30 Jan 1996 09:48:01 -0500
From: CeltGirl35@aol.com
To: bmt-talk@ai.mit.edu
Subject: Bad News from Kate (Celtgirl 35)
This is very long, so please delete if you like.
I've actually had results from all my tests for awhile now, (2weeks) but had
a hard time getting back on-line. Some of you are probably wondering what's
been happening with me. Well, with the holidays and all, it took awhile to
get things done. You might recall I had this mouth swelling and was waiting
to have a CT scan on it. I'd also had my Hickman pulled (infection) and had
another bone marrow biopsy done (to see why my platelets were going away).
That happened on Dec. 27, and takes us up to my last posting.
In the middle of the night New Year's Eve, I woke up coughing and feeling
kind of weird. I'd been having especially bad nose bleeding, so went into
the bathroom and discovered my entire mouth was bloody, and every time I
coughed, I would bring up blood! Very scary. My dad drove me to the
University of Iowa Hospitals (where I had my transplant in May, 30 miles away
from Cedar Rapids, where I live) and my sister, who is an RN at the same
hospital, met us there. We went up to the BMT unit where they immediately
gave me platelets, drew blood and put me on a face mask (oxygen level was
only 84%). I had a chest xray , and found out I had pneumonia -- then had a
bronchoscopy the next day (Happy New Year) to see what was causing the
pneumonia. It turned out it was caused by a spontaneous bleed in my lung,
caused by the low platelets (they were 2). Of course, I was admitted and
started on antibiotics -- also continued on the oxygen.
I was in the hospital 5 days, and also had my mouth swelling biopsied while
in there. After release, I had to go back every other day to have the counts
checked, and I was also starting to have a problem with severe edema in the
legs, so they re-admitted me to get the fluid off with an IV drip.
Meanwhile, I was still waiting for results of the bone marrow, part of which
had returned (normal chromosomes, very high % donor marrow). However, they
were still running tests on some clumped lymphocytes which puzzled them and
slowed down the results.
A couple days later, my docs came in and said, basically, "we don't think
you're relapsing because of the chromosomes, the fact that you have a high
number of donor cells, and because your red/white counts are normal -- also,
the lymphocytes don't look anything like your original leukemia." The next
day, they told me that some of the pathologists *did* think I was relapsing
-- divided camp -- but the head path guy thought I was (very scary to hear).
The day after, they came in and said, "they've decided you are relapsing,
mostly because the mouth biopsy showed some leukemic cells -- but they are
still puzzled because these leukemic cells don't look anything like your
original leukemia (they are more characteristic of ALL cells, not AML, which
is what I have).
So the plan was to contact my original donor and get T-Cells from her, which
I would get after chemo. For my transplant in May, the T-cells were removed,
but given back to me later in 3 separate doses (so as to lessen the
possibility of severe GVH). Problem -- I never got so much as a hint of GVH,
so probably didn't get the anti-leukemic effect GVH is thought to stimulate.
The plan this time was to try to give me GVH, taking the risk it could be
Another waiting game began while we contacted the other donor center --
finally we heard and it was bad news -- my donor either can't or won't donate
again! Everyone was crushed by this, and for the first time in all this
ordeal, I really felt hopeless. I spent a good deal of time those first
couple of days trying not to think evil thoughts of her, and give her the
benefit of the doubt.
I had 3 more potentially perfect donors, whose centers were contacted and all
3 had their initial blood work done -- which we started testing last
Thursday. Everything is on a stat basis, so that might be done by end of
this week, then we can hopefully have a better idea of how to proceed, when
to start chemo, etc. Something a little scary is that they will have to do a
second complete transplant, not just T-cells, since they must kill the
original donor's marrow so as not to have a graft rejection. Since this is a
second transplant (with T-cells) it is expected to be harder on me than the
first one.
I've come to terms with this pretty well, although it was much harder this
time. I'm a positive thinker, and each time I've undergone treatment I've
been optimistic that it would do the trick. I was diagnosed in July '94,
then was in remission until April '95, had the transplant in May '95, then
this relapse, probably in early December. It's hard to believe because I
came through transplant so well and easily, and had no infections of any kind
post-transplant -- until all this stuff started happening. So-- although I
am continuing to think the best, I also realize that if this fails, there
won't be much they can do for me in the way of treatment. I guess it makes
my mortality that much more real, and frightening. I am only 36, and
everything in my life (job, relationship, being comfortable in my skin) was
just starting to take off when I became sick. It certainly isn't fair,
although I like to hope there's some good reason for it all.
Well, this has been too long by far, but I know there are many out there who
have wondered what was happening, and I couldn't e-mail each of you
personally. Please send me your prayers -- I need them more than ever.
Also, if there is anyone out there who has had two transplants, I would like
to hear from you.

Date: Sat, Feb 10, 1996 11:52 PM EDT
From: CeltGirl35
Subj: News about Kate...
To: bmt-talk@ai.mit.edu
This is Kate's younger brother, Michael. My sister Lisa and I are very sorry
to tell you all that Kate passed away last night (Friday) at 7pm. Her family
and friends were with her all day. Although Kate's condition worsened during
the day Friday, she was responsive until around 11am and we all were able to
spend time alone with her. After that it looked like Kate was asleep--she
didn't speak to us but we spoke to her, and we know she could hear what we
said. We played her favorite Celtic music quietly and would tell her who was
in the room with her as her many friends came to see her.
Sadly she never read your many postings from the last week, but she had gone
through the stack and separated them out to start replying (so she knew you
wrote, and you KNOW she felt your support :-) She was such a fighter, my
sister! She was very determined to respond to each and every one of you, for
she felt SO close to so many of you. As she got weaker and sleepier, she
agreed to let me type her replies, but we were only able to post the one
message updating you on her condition after having been offline for awhile.
I wish I could somehow tell each of you what your words and love have meant
to Kate over these many months, but I guess in your hearts you must know. I
know that this wonderful forum helped Kate fight every inch of the way, in a
manner that family, friends and doctors could never do. For that I thank
whomever founded it, and whomever maintains it now. You are doing a great
thing! For all of you out there still fighting: I know Kate is still
pulling for you! Whenever you need encouragement or a little help, just
write yourself a note in your mind from Celtgirl...
Thank you and God bless you,
The Finn Family
p.s.--My (Michael's) e-mail address, if anyone has any questions or thoughts:

Lisa's (Kate's sister) e-mail address: lisa-james@uiowa.edu

From: Tonysica@aol.com [SMTP:Tonysica@aol.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 22, 1996 6:23 AM
To: GoFilms@aol.com; lisa-james@uiowa.edu; bmt-talk@ai.mit.edu
Cc: KendraBMT@aol.com
Subject: celtgirl
The Finn Family
I was saddened to here of Kate's passing. For the first time since my
lymphoma diagnosis in July, I cried for someone else.
I enjoyed Kate's postings to the bmt-talk line and shared her love for
celtic music. I broadcast a folk music radio show each Sunday from Towson St.
University near Baltimore. This Sunday I will honor Kate by dedicating a
piece of music to her memory. It is my favorite piece. A traditional tune
called " The Mist Covered Mountains" or "Chi mi na morbenna" in Gaelic. It
was President Kennedy's favorite as well and was played at his funeral.
Whenever and wherever I listen to this piece of music I will think of her. I
will miss our Celtgirl.
My prayers are with you and your family.
Tony Sica

Last Updated on 12/06/01

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