WELCOME, N.C. (WGHP) — 5-year-old Finley Price loves fire trucks, police cars and tractors.
When local first responders and neighboring farmers heard the little girl of Welcome was battling terminal cancer, they lined up for a Hero Parade.
“Made me tear up quite a bit there at the beginning of the parade,” said Theresa Price, Finley’s mother. “Tearing up from just realizing how many people truly love our family and Finley and reaching out to help make an awful situation bearable.”
At 27 months old, Finley was diagnosed with high-risk medulloblastoma, a brain tumor most commonly found in children.
She faced surgery, chemotherapy, stem cell transplants, and proton radiation after relapsing. Finely’s mom said she dealt with complications from treatment which included temporarily losing the ability to walk and needing the use of hearing aids due to hearing loss.
“She was clear for two years,” said Price. “This past March she relapsed again with bone metastases and then we learned with her PET scan that she had disseminated disease and the only thing bone metastases and disseminated disease responds to is radiation and that’s just not sustainable.”
Theresa, her husband David, and Finley’s little sister Vivian, are now focusing on making memories, spending time with family and finding joy in each day which came Thursday thanks to the bells and whistles of local first responders.
“The parade means a lot,” said David Price. “We’re trying to get all the enjoyment we can out of the remaining time that we have.”
In recent weeks they’ve had their family Christmas pictures, received a visit from Santa and even the tooth fairy.
“Finley lost her first two teeth this week,” said Theresa.
For many in the community, Finley has been a real hero, teaching and inspiring others to live each day, be strong and courageous which shines in her parents. She’s also helped comfort her family.
“When I get upset and I start to cry — I try not to do that, but you just can’t help it — and it’s usually in the evenings when I’m getting her down and I’ve started to cry and she’s like, ‘momma, I’m still here,” Theresa recalled. “When I have gotten upset, she has actually taken my glasses off my face and wiped my tears away and just like, ‘it’s okay, momma.”
Theresa remembers Finley’s reaction recently to the Max Lucado children’s book, “Just in Case You Ever Wonder” — which talks of life in heaven.
“When I finished reading it, Finley had this calm look on her face and she said, ‘I’m ready to go see Jesus,” said Theresa.
The Price family has shared Finley’s story to help raise awareness for childhood cancer and research. They attended the 17th Annual St. Baldrick’s Day in Winston-Salem in September, where family members shaved their heads and raised over $24,000 for childhood cancer research.
But for now, it’s soaking up the time they have.
“Making as many memories and spending time with family,” said Theresa. “Do what we can and provide her the best life that she can have with the remaining time we have.”