Meet Our Inspiration
Finn was your average fun-loving five-year-old. He loved music, dancing, roughhousing with his 6-year-old brother Declan and all things Lego. It was a random day that he said his back was hurting a little. The pediatrician suggested Motrin and to call back in a few days if it didn’t feel better.
Fast forward a few days, still hurting only now he could barely sit in a car seat without wincing in pain. It was the first day of Kindergarten.
By Tuesday towards the end of school, the director called to say he wasn’t feeling well and shaky on his feet. Later that evening he couldn’t walk well so we took him to the emergency room. It was recommended that we get an MRI and he had an appointment in 2 days with a spine specialist so home we went.
Wednesday morning he could barely walk and I sent a video of it to our pediatrician. He immediately made contact with the hospital, we were sent there and that is where the journey began. Finn was admitted and given an MRI Thursday morning which showed a tumor on his spine.
By the grace of God and the talent of his neurosurgeon and team, he was able to regain movement after surgery. We were given a diagnosis of Ewings Sarcoma. Surgery was 4 hours, waiting for diagnosis another 10. We suddenly were facing the worst fear any parent has: the mortality of their child.
Over the next year, Finn endured many surgeries, procedures, chemotherapy infusions, blood transfusions, platelet transfusions and hospital stays. He had to learn to walk again, missed his kindergarten year and precious family time with his best bud Declan. By May he rang the bell of end of treatment.
The summer brought fun in the sun, family time, beach trips and his Dream trip to Disney through The Children's Dream Fund organization.
August marked the start of first grade. It was tough for him to re acclimate but we had the support of an amazing school and our village that had lifted us up the last year. By week 2 of school Finn had his first 3 month follow up MRI where we were devastated to find out there was a new mass in a new location on his spine. Relapse.
We cannot be more grateful for the amazing team at St. Joe’s Children’s Hospital. The amazing care they have shown Finn and our family has been unbelievable; at times we feel like the only patient in the hospital. The talent of the teams and the oncology department is top-notch and the nurses are the backbone of the operation. The communication has been stellar, it is as if time stops and all the doctors are able to pore over Finn’s chart and make a plan. While this is certainly the journey no child should have to endure, we #fightwithfinn.
Sadly after more failed chemotherapy, radiation and a trip to Boston for a specialized trial, Finn passed away January 21, 2020 very peacefully surrounded by family and his beloved Barkey.
Finn's Fighters was started in May 2019 as a way for our family to continue to fight for cancer awareness but also a means to pay it forward. Our community rallied around our family and supported us with emotional, financial, and spiritual support and we are forever thankful.
Finn's Fighters is committed to increasing awareness of pediatric cancer and supporting families facing a pediatric cancer diagnosis in the Tampa Bay area.
We ask ourselves daily "What would Finn do?" We dedicate Finn's Fighters to his memory and will continue to honor him by promoting kindness in the community just as Finn would have.
The Gray Family
Jim, Christen, Declan and our sweet angel Finn