What if you didn’t know if each day was going to be your last?
When Gordie Finney was 31-years old in 2006 he went to see a physician in Dartmouth because of problems he was experiencing in his abdomen. The doctor told him it was a hernia and scheduled him for surgery.
Finney and his wife Kim went to Shelburne to visit his mother and while there they stopped into Roseway Hospital to see Dr. Wouna Chaloner who was on call.
Kim said all Wouna had to do was touch the spot and she knew it wasn’t a hernia and suspected cancer.
Tests proved he had a tumour that started in his appendix. The type of cancer he had was inoperable and could be managed with chemotherapy, but not eradicated.
Doctors gave him one year of life without treatment and only two years to live with treatment.
But that is not what happened.
It’s now been 11 years since he was first diagnosed.
At the beginning, not knowing for certain how much life was left, the family decided not to live their lives worrying about death but rather to focus on living.
“There is no stopping life,” says Kim. “We don’t give ourselves a timeline.”
Kim believes that is how and why her husband has done so well.
“His attitude is a huge thing,” she says. “Often its him who tries to make us feel better and cracks jokes.”
They don’t ask the doctors too many questions because they don’t want to know the answer.
AS TIME GOES ON
Gordie has been getting increasingly sicker since January.
“We were doing fine until the last few months,” says Kim. “Until we couldn’t push it aside anymore.”
Two years ago Gordie had stopped chemotherapy because doctors told him there was nothing else that could be done. The tumour has now grown so large it is interfering with organs, pushing the bowel and liver and releasing toxins into his stomach. Essentially it is poisoning him.
Surgery was required, whereby doctors would put in a stint to help lift the tumour off of his organs. Kim hopes this stint will give her husband more borrowed time, even years.
If it doesn’t work the couple will look into a surgery that doctors have warned comes with little chance of survival.
Throughout their lives since the diagnosis, Kim says there have been many unexpected surprises.
“You can’t say it sucks,” she says. “Every day is a gift.”
And it is.
They understood it the moment their time together became finite, their days and years numbered.
“We appreciate each other way more and we appreciate our time together,” she says.
During his chemo years, Gordie took a year off to rest his body.
Their biggest gift came in the form of a baby seven years ago.
“Grayson is our miracle baby,” says Kim.
Before the cancer, the couple had tried for a baby for seven years before giving up.
“Dr. Chaloner gave us 11 years together,” she says. “She gave us our son.”
Kim says when she starts to get upset about a small problem she is quick to let it dissipate.
“I try to say ‘I love you’ at least a few times a day to Grayson and Gordie,” she says.
Once again they don’t talk about dying in their family. They talk about living and just enjoy life as much as they can.
“Words are so important,” Kim says. “My hope is getting as many days as possible with him and Grayson together.”
There will be a Dutch auction to support the family on June 12 at the Shelburne fire hall at 6 p.m.