Red Deer AB
Smile, Grace, Determination - The Story of a Fighter
In July 2018, our warrior friend Kristin Faechner was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) after an onset of acute symptoms that we never imagined would lead to the diagnosis of cancer. She was admitted to the hospital in Edmonton to start several months/rounds of aggressive chemotherapy to prep her for a stem cell transplant as the genetic makeup of her type of AML was best combatted through a stem cell transplant.
In late October 2018, it was discovered that there was a 10 point match for a stem cell donor, a blessing from above, the hope of a gift from a complete stranger. Kristin was treated with a consolidation chemotherapy and allowed to go home to her husband and two boys for a short period before her care was transferred to the Tom Baker Cancer Clinic in Calgary. She was admitted to a transplant floor in Calgary, stripped down to her birthday genes and received her gift from her donor on December 12, 2018. She remained in Calgary for several months after the transplant where she learned more about the services that the LLSC had to offer a patient like her.
From the moment Kristin was discharged from the acute phase of the program, she chose to live her life to the best of her ability. Determination, grace and her 'take no bullshit' attitude shined through her fight to regain her strength and gain her footing toward normalcy. Kristin had a smile that would light up a room, a laugh that warmed your heart and her grounding nature drew people in from all different circles of life...many who had no idea the battles she challenged head on with a warrior attitude in her recovery. From Graft Vs Host Disease and the ailments that come with that post transplant, to medication sensitivities, near crippling fatigue, to developing Clostridium Difficile and catching every little bug that seemed to pass her by, Kristin chose to carry on full steam ahead and focus on her blessings rather than wallowing in the challenges that were presented to her. She was fierce and brave and she is a hero to all who were blessed by her being. We were able to celebrate her first birthday on December 12, 2019.
Late March, early April of 2020, a flag came up on routine blood work for Kristin. Her white blood cell was elevated and blasts were seen on her smear. She had a bone marrow biopsy in Calgary on April 1, 2020 and on April 2 we found out that Kristin was at 80% cancer load. She was admitted to Foothills Hospital on April 6, 2020 in the start of a pandemic, no visitors, no support at her bedside to prep for another round of aggressive chemo with the hope of another stem cell transplant...
In the initial stages of her "rediagnosis" the doctors presented to Kristin that the AML was not a relapse, rather there was genetic mutations which led them to believe that the AML was that of the donors...SAY WHAT??? For a short time, the medical team was completely stumped until it was discovered that the AML was indeed Kristins', only the genetic makeup had morphed and was rearing its ugly head. Kristin went through the first part of treatment according "to the books" (those who know her, know rarely does she go by the book) but true to Kristin nature, the road was bumpy and full of obstacles from a failed central line attempt leading to a jugular vein clot, infection after infection, procedure after procedure, test after test, and then a painful bone marrow biopsy that revealed that a stem cell transplant would not be the best route of treatment. After much contemplation and prayer, it was decided that Kristin would come home to Red Deer to receive a non traditional treatment medication in the form of immunotherapy with the possibility of adding in a non-approved drug treatment that showed promise of a prolonged life and decrease of symptoms.
Troops rallied together, friends joined in the fight, all who believed in Kristin and her fight came together to raise an incredible GoFundMe tally to help pay for a trial drug and to help support her boys and family with all the costs that are associated with having a chronically ill family member. Unfortunately, this drug treatment was not the best option for Kristin to treat her AML.
Kristin was a warrior. A superhero. A fighter... right up until her last breath. Kristin did not lose her battle to cancer...she kicked cancer in the ass. She did not give up in her fight against cancer. On July 17, 2020, Kristin Rae Faechner, passed away with her best friend and family by her side in Red Deer from complications of battling a blood cancer. She leaves those who loved her with a trail of beautiful memories, blessings and lessons.