A Massachusetts man recently ran afoul of a shark off the California coast, but in a bizarre twist of fate, he now credits the animal’s “attack” with saving his life after doctors made a startling discovery when examining him.
Eugene Finney hails from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, according to CBS News. Earlier this year, he experienced every beachgoer’s worst nightmare while vacationing with his family in California. While swimming at Huntington Beach, Finney was inadvertently attacked by a shark, experiencing the brunt force of the animal striking him.
— 7News Boston WHDH (@7News) October 7, 2015
The shark crashed into Finney from behind, giving him “instant whiplash,” by his own admission. He claims that he had “never been hit like that before,” and that the experience was “jarring” to him. When Finney came ashore, his daughter asked him why his back was bloodied. Finney had a gash across his back, and he was in pain from the trauma of his encounter.
Finney didn’t see the animal that struck him from behind, yet the beach was closed just moments later, following a sighting of two sharks. The predators are hardly strangers to the California coastline this year, as a stronger-than-average El Nino drives their food sources closer to shore. Researchers have observed a number of species moving unexpectedly close to beaches, including several varieties of sharks. A pod of humpback whales were even spotted swimming up the Columbia River recently, as the Inquisitr reported.
— newslocker_uknews (@newslock_uknews) October 7, 2015
Despite his harrowing encounter with the shark, Finney now says that the predator was a message to him. When he returned home, the pain from his ordeal only increased, not simply from the wound on his back, but from interior bruising in Finney’s thoracic cavity. This injury was caused by the blunt force trauma of the shark striking him.
While examining Finney, however, doctors made another discovery that was far more humbling to him. They uncovered a walnut-sized tumor on his right kidney and found that it was indeed cancerous. Just two weeks ago, that tumor was removed at at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, Massachusetts by Dr. Ingolf Tuerk.
— 89.3 KPCC (@KPCC) September 18, 2015
Luckily, Finney’s prognosis is positive, and he will require neither radiation nor chemotherapy treatments following the removal of the tumor, as the Mirror reports. In his mind, the shark which struck him quite literally saved his life, as there is little chance he would have known about the tumor if the animal hadn’t run into him.
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) September 18, 2015
The stretch of beach upon which Finney experienced his encounter with the shark has been the site of numerous interactions between sea life and beachgoers over the last year. Huntington Beach is frequented by sharks of several species, including both hammerheads and juvenile great whites. In September, the area also saw a spike in stingray attacks. Authorities have closed the beach numerous times due to shark sightings and interactions, including some in which the animals have been seen within a few hundred feet of the shore.
Dr. Tuerk observed that the way in which the shark encounter led to the discovery of Finney’s tumor was fascinating in its own way. As for Finney, he feels as if the entire experience, from the run-in with the shark to the successful operation to remove his tumor, has given him the equivalent of a second chance at life. By his own admission, he feels committed to not wasting that opportunity.