Eugene Finney is probably the only man on the planet who can honestly say that he is glad he was attacked by a great white shark. In fact, it’s fair to say that the shark saved his life.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 7, 2015
As WSB-TV News reports, it started when Finney, who lives in Massachusetts, took his children and girlfriend on a vacation to California. While enjoying a day at the shore in Huntington Beach, Finney was swimming with his ten-year-old daughter, Temple, when he felt something hit him in the back with tremendous force.
“Harder than I’ve ever been hit in my life,” Finney told the San Jose Mercury News.
Finney says he was about 20 feet deep when he was hit. Disoriented and in pain, he fought his way back to the surface and headed back to the beach. As he rinsed off, Finney still didn’t know what had struck him, even after his daughter pointed out the long, bloody gash on his back. Then they noticed that the lifeguards were calling people in, and that shark fins had been spotted in the water.
Finney was still doubtful that he had run into a shark, but when a surfer was attacked by a great white the next day at the same beach, he no longer had any doubt.
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) October 8, 2015
In the meantime, the pain in Finney’s back and upper body was getting progressively worse. Flying home was agony and he was unable to sleep at night. On July 13, five days after the attack, he returned to work, determined to push through the pain. However, as soon as his supervisor learned about the shark attack, he ordered Finney to the doctor.
“I said, I guess I’m going to have to go to the doctor after work,” Finney told the Mercury News. “[My boss] told me, ‘No, you’re going to the doctor now. You don’t look good.’”
Finney drove himself to the emergency room in so much pain that he was now convinced that there was something more than a shark attack at the root of the problem. Doctors ran a series of tests on him and discovered the cause of his intense pain was, “interior bruising of the thoracic cavity, due to blunt-force trauma.”
But that wasn’t the only thing the doctors had found.
— Byron Barnett (@Byron_Barnett) October 7, 2015
During the tests, they had also located a tumor on his kidney, its location indicative of cancer. Luckily, it was only a Stage 1 cancer, meaning they had caught it early, while treatment would still be relatively simple and the prognosis good. Finney’s grandmother had died of stomach cancer that may also have started in her kidneys, and he understood immediately how lucky he was.
“If they hadn’t made this incidental find, I wouldn’t have known until it was too late,” said Finney. “I could have ended up with cancer metastasizing all over my stomach area, and you don’t come back from that.”
Finney underwent surgery to remove the tumor and was recently pronounced to be 100% cancer-free. Now he believes that the shark attack has a deeper meaning.
“[T]he incident with the shark was a message from God, a message from someone,” Finney said, acknowledging that the shark saved his life. “It could have bitten me, but it nudged me just enough.”