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How a shark attack saved a man from cancer

This article is more than 12 months old

Being attacked by a shark is certainly not going to make it into anyone's definition of having a lucky day.

But for Mr Eugene Finney, his encounter with one apex predator from the deep could have very well saved his life.

During his California vacation in July with his girlfriend and two children, the 39-year-old from Fitchburg, Massachusetts was swimming underwater with daughter Temple, 10, when he felt something ram into his back.

Describing the hit as "harder than I've ever been hit in my life", Mr Finney had no idea what had struck him as he struggled to the surface and back to the beach with his daughter.

The only sign that was left of the attack? A long cut that ran down nearly the entire length of his back.

Shortly after he returned to the beach, Mr Finney's girlfriend Emeline McKeown spotted what could have been his attacker as a shark's dorsal fin breached the surface, prompting lifeguards to evacuate the water.


The incident left Mr Finney with a pain that afflicted his back, abdomen and upper body.

As the pain worsened with each passing day, he was eventually persuaded to seek medical attention by his boss at the art museum where he worked at.

After subjecting him through an exhaustive series of tests, doctors told him that the pain was the result of bruising in his thoracic cavity from the blunt-force trauma of the hit.

They also found a tumour in Mr Finney's right kidney thanks to a CAT scan.

Fortunately for him, the cancer was in stage one and because it was detected early, it was excised without Mr Finney needing further treatment.

Recovering, but cancer-free

While he has had to adopt a less active lifestyle to recuperate, Mr Finney is glad to be free of cancer.

He said: "Having to sit on the sidelines for a few months, versus finding out I have Stage 4 cancer in a year is a trade I'd make any day.

"The incident with the shark was a message from God, a message from someone.

"The ocean has always been a big part of my life, and my father has always taught me that if you respect the ocean, it will take care of you."

Source: San Jose Mercury News via The Independent

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