IU Health University Hospital

Patient loves tie-dye, rock music and tattoos

Patient Stories

August 08, 2019

Diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, (AML) Walkerton, Ind. resident Kylee Rininger relies on the nurses and caregivers at IU Health University Hospital to keep her going.

She should be attending rock concerts this summer with her friends or cheering for her 8-year-old son as he races across the basketball court. But instead, Kylee Rininger, 29, is undergoing treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

A rapidly progressing cancer AML starts in the bone marrow and moves into the blood. It can spread to other parts of the body including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen and central nervous system.

A 2008 graduate of James Whitcomb Riley High School in South Bend, Ind. Rininger has loved music most of her life. She performed with her high school choir and attends concerts whenever she can.

“Lately, I haven’t had the energy to do much of anything,” said Rininger, a patient of IU Health hematologist/oncologist Dr. Sherif S. Farag. “I’d love to be able to go to some concerts with friends – especially old rock.”

She enjoys Ozzy Osbourne, Guns N’ Roses, Alice in Chains, Korn and Rob Zombie. One of her favorite concerts was Rock on the Stage, an annual two-day festival held in Columbus, Ohio each May that draws a crowd of 40,000 a day. Over the years, the festival has brought together more than 50 bands including such historic favorites as ZZ Top, Kid Rock, 3 Doors Down, Motley Crue, The Smashing Pumpkins, Metallica, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Rininger loves talking about music and she loves talking about the staff on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at IU Health University Hospital. When a friend recently created tie-dyed t-shirts for “Kylee Strong” all the nurses and caregivers purchased one and wore it proudly in support of Rininger.

It was January of 2018 and Rininger was working in housekeeping at Swan Lake Golf Resort in Plymouth when she became nauseous. She grew tired, her gums began to swell and she lacked coloring. Her boss suggested she go to ER.

“There was no oxygen in my blood. I was full of cancer. They drew labs and right away they could tell,” said Rininger. “I picked up my mom and they told us in ER that I had leukemia. I was shocked. She started chemotherapy the next day at a hospital closer to her Walkerton, Ind. home. In June of 2018, under the care of IU Health hematologist Dr. Sherif Farag Rininger received her first stem cell transplant.

“I was in recovery and doing really well and then in November I got a kidney stone. I thought I was dying. They checked my labs and they were all good and then three weeks later I relapsed, said Rininger. “I knew it because my symptoms came back.”

In March she received a second stem cell transplant, donated by her brother Jessy Pittman. “Since then I’ve been dealing with a lot of side effects of medication and we’re just trying to get things under control so I can go back home and be a mom,” said Rininger. “I am so thankful for the nurses here and my mom Carman Pittman, my brother, and a bunch friends who have pulled me through.”

-- By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
Reach Banes via email tfender1@iuhealth.org.

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Cancer

Cancer care includes a variety of treatments, systematic therapies, surgery and clinical trials.

Leukemia

A cancer of the blood caused by the bone marrow producing abnormal white blood cells that crowd out healthy ones.