— Editor’s note: This story adds family members to the fifth paragraph.
As Nikki Fink lay in her hospital bed, her body fighting infection so she could get a life-saving lung transplant, family and friends prayed.
They prayed for healing. They prayed for a miracle.
The 28-year-old woman died peacefully, on a cool fall Sunday afternoon, surrounded by those who love her. And those in the room realized that their prayer had been answered, long before they ever offered it up.
“The real miracle is that we’ve had her for 28 years,” her mother, Yvonne Bowman said. “We had 28 lovely years with our daughter.”
Nikki Fink died Oct. 17 at University of Washington Medical Center, from complications from cystic fibrosis. She is survived by family members in Friday Harbor and in Michigan. In Friday Harbor: Her mother and stepfather, Yvonne and Gary Bowman; son, Xander, 5; sister, Loni Fink; and aunt, Judy King. In Michigan: Her father, Eric R. Fink; paternal grandmother, Jody E. Jones; paternal grandfather, Raymond N. Fink and his wife, Lillian Fink; aunt, Weaver Habl and her husband, James Bloomfield; aunt, Carol Valor; aunt, Anne Daniels and her husband, Tim Daniels; and cousins, Raymond Valor, Jodi McFarland, Phil McFarland, and Ray McFarland and their families.
She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 18 months but, her mother and her aunt remembered, “Nothing kept her down … She always wanted to be active.” She wrote a school paper about cystic fibrosis in the sixth grade, graduated from Friday Harbor High School in 2000, sang with San Juan Singers, and raised money for cystic fibrosis research. She attended Western Washington University on a singing scholarship and worked for Maloula’s Salsa.
Memorial plans will be posted and published when received. Donations are being accepted to help defray her medical expenses. Last week, as family and friends rallied beside Nikki, family friend Rosalee Webster submitted this letter:
* * *
More than likely, you know Yvonne Bowman. She works at the post office, selling stamps and giving away smiles. She is one of the most optimistic people I have ever met. You are possibly aware of the serious accident her husband Gary had almost two years ago. In the midst of his ongoing recovery and permanent disability, she maintains her positive outlook, choosing to dwell on the progress not the prognosis.
You may not know that one of Yvonne’s daughters, Nikki, has cystic fibrosis. Nikki is 28 years old and she has a five-year-old son, Xander, who also has cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited, chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. It is progressive and terminal.
Nikki was just 18 months old when she was diagnosed. From that first day until now they have known that she would face diminishing lung capacity, chronic lung infections and ultimately, that CF would take her life. While none of us has a guarantee of tomorrow, their family has lived with the guarantee that the disease will progress. And it has.
Nikki is an amazing young woman. Like her mother, she has faced this disease fully aware of the prognosis. She has chosen to focus on the beauty of each new day, realizing it is a gift to be cherished.
Nikki has poured her heart, time and energy into raising Xander. They live in Friday Harbor with Gary’s mother, Marian Bowman. Nikki has worked part-time (when she could) to help pay the medical bills that have accumulated as her bouts with lung infections continued, resulting in hospital stays. While Nikki does have insurance, it covers only a portion of the cost of the doctors, hospitalizations and medicines.
In recent weeks, her condition has dramatically deteriorated. She has been in the hospital for almost three weeks. She was on the regional lung transplant list but, due to various conditions, has been removed. The family remains hopeful that she will recover enough to be placed back on the list.
There is nothing we can do to give Nikki, Xander and their family more time together. We can, however, give them some relief from the worry of the bills that have and will continue to accumulate.
There are two ways you can donate. First, there is an account set up at Islanders Bank for Nikki. Second, if you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, you can send your contribution to the following:
New Horizons Foundation
4570 Hilton Parkway
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Note on the memo line: Nikki Fink Medical Fund
No donation is too small. Thank you for your consideration.
Rosalie and Scott Webster