Parksville’s Kaiden Finley has died after a long, brave battle with brain cancer.
The 11-year-old died on March 21 and will be remembered by many for his endless efforts to raise awareness for brain cancer.
“That’s all he wanted was his story shared, to get awareness of his brain tumour out there,” said Kaiden’s mom, Tasha Finley, in an email. “All Kaiden wanted was to share awareness and get people to keep sharing.”
Kaiden was diagnosed with a brain tumour on May 7, 2017, and three days later underwent a 12-hour surgery to remove the cancerous growth at B.C. Children’s Hospital.
Last September, after many ups and downs, Kaiden went for a routine MRI and was told the cancer had returned, this time in his neck and spine. Doctors found six new tumours.
Tasha said Kaiden went through a tough journey but remained strong.
“He was seriously the strongest 11-year-old. Even through his pain he kept smiling and laughing and willing to keep sharing his story for other kids,” Tasha said. “He loved getting all the loving messages from people wishing him well or just a note saying ‘hi’. He was so very touched that everyone cared about him.”
Kaiden spent his final days in Victoria to be close to his hospice team. One of his main focuses over the past several months was the upcoming Brain Tumour Walk on May 26 in Victoria. His team Kaiden’s Kape Krusaders has reached $1,700 in donations that will help others dealing with brain tumours.
In January, Kaiden spent the day as police chief with the Victoria Police Department and was able to check many other things off his bucket list like flying lessons with the Victoria Flying Club, putting out fires with Victoria International Airport Fire Rescue members and learned archery with the Cowichan Bowmen Archery Club.
Kaiden was also a junior rider for the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock, which is how he met his team rider Alli Roberts, who was a huge part in helping Kaiden reach many of his final goals.
The two became close and created a strong bond over the last year.
“I can’t believe he’s gone,” Roberts said. “We were teamed up for Tour de Rock and he inspired me to be the best rider I could be. Now I have to continue sharing his story even when it breaks my heart because I will always stand up for Kaiden and share his story.”
Roberts said her best memory with Kaiden was when he stood up in front of his whole school to talk about Tour de Rock.
“Public speaking wasn’t his thing but he bravely stepped up and did it,” Roberts said.
To honour Kaiden and his memory, Roberts got a thunderbolt tattoo on her ankle which represents a little flash figure he gave to Roberts just before the Tour de Rock.
“He told me he held onto it during his radiation treatments for strength and that I could have it on the ride to help me when it was difficult,” she said. “I took it along with me and had it for every moment of the tour and took pictures with it and sent them back to Kaiden along the way.”
When Kaiden relapsed, the entire Tour de Rock team got lightning bolt decals made and stuck them to their helmets to show Kaiden and his family they were riding for him.
“I’ll run for Kaiden, ride my bike for Kaiden, and most definitely walk in the Brain Tumour Walk on May 26. Please join Kaiden’s team and walk with us in support of the awareness he has tried to create,” Roberts said.