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Nathaniel “Kayne” Finley

  • Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG)

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Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG)

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Kayne, 17, is a kind, compassionate, funny, witty and mature high school senior that loves animals, especially dogs. He has been active in club and high school swimming since he was about 3-years-old. He plays volleyball and ultimate Frisbee and loves to boogie board and surf. In his spare time, he volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics and Launch Federal Credit Union and enjoys video games on Xbox and Minecraft. He's outgoing and can talk to anyone of any age without hesitation or reserve. Kayne is a joy to be around with an easy-going nature.

Late October 2016, Kayne reported his left eye not fully closing when he was in the ocean. Additional symptoms began such as being more tired than usual, missing shots when playing volleyball, mild hearing loss and inability to move the left side of his face. Thinking it was Bell's Palsy but wanting to be sure, the doctor ordered a full brain MRI and the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist informed his family that it was a mass lesion near the brain stem. The true weight of the diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) diagnosis came when they met with the pediatric neurosurgeon the following week and Kayne was hospitalized due to dehydration and vomiting. He was inpatient for four days to get him stabilized.

Once in the hospital, he met with the entire pediatric neuro-oncology and radiology oncology teams to develop a plan of action which included six weeks of targeted radiation immediately followed by a targeted therapy clinical trial. Kayne has responded well to radiation with little nausea as time has gone on. Many of his symptoms have significantly reduced. He still cannot hear on the left side and does not have his full taste buds back. The doctors and his family are hopeful that he regains full function with the upcoming planned clinical trial treatment. Kayne recently finished his 30th radiation treatment and is back home. His family is hopeful he’ll soon begin the Ribociclib trial, led by ALSF funded researcher Mariko DeWire, MD.

Kayne’s dream is to become a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM). It is his plan to attend Louisiana State University as a freshman in fall 2017, majoring in the College of Agriculture, Animal Sciences. He wishes to be able to drive again and do all the things he was able to do before. He wants to continue competing in swimming and playing sports as he prepares for high school graduation and college.

Kayne is his mother Kirsten’s hero because he is smart and outgoing, super friendly, a thinker and enjoys people. It pains his family that he is going through brain cancer treatments at such a young age. In just eight short weeks, he is already rallying and inspiring hundreds of people, thousands in fact, across the globe to stay positive through the toughest challenges. Kayne looks to God for his future and knows that only He knows what Kayne's plan is. Kayne displays humility, kindness and a genuine light that fills a room when he is in it. He doesn't ask for anything. He says: “Just PRAY. I don't have anything that I want because I can do that when I'm better. I just want to get better.”

Kayne says he was slightly ignorant about the DIPG diagnosis at first and chalks it up to being sick and in the hospital. Once he was stable, feeling better and the full reality of the situation set in, he began to truly open his eyes and find happiness in what he has each day. He wants others, who may have recently received a cancer diagnosis, to know that your perception of life changes drastically and he believes there is purpose in all of it. Kayne says, “Stay positive and don't let the cancer win by beating you down. Find the good in each day and although things are going fast, at the same time each moment is to be cherished.”

Kayne hopes that by participating in ALSF he can spread awareness about pediatric cancer and more importantly raise funds for proper, proven research on brain cancer and specifically DIPG cures for future children. “I hope that with all the people that know my name and my diagnosis [DIPG brain cancer], I can be a beacon of inspiration worldwide. Please educate yourself and others about DIPG and help us fight for and develop a cure. Every single person makes a difference,” says Kayne. 

Hero Quote: “It's not about what you've done, it's about what you do and continue to do from here on out.” – Kayne Finley

Sadly, Kayne passed away at the age of 17 in November 2017.

Information provided by Kirsten Finley, Kayne’s mother
Updated November 2017

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