Police, Fire departments support young resident with cancer

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 21, 2017

 Noah Gochanour sits in the front of a Washington Township fire truck.

Noah Gochanour sits in the front of a Washington Township fire truck.

Photo by Donna Agusti

 Noah Gochanour, 11, speaks into the radio with Sterling Heights  police officer Dustin Leak, left, as the two are joined by Sterling Heights  Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski, right.

Noah Gochanour, 11, speaks into the radio with Sterling Heights police officer Dustin Leak, left, as the two are joined by Sterling Heights Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski, right.

Photo by Donna Agusti

STERLING HEIGHTS — Members of Sterling Heights’ Police and Fire departments recently teamed up with other local public safety agencies to make the holidays brighter for a local child fighting cancer.

Noah Gochanour, 11, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in 2014. The disease affects bone and surrounding tissue.

According to Noah’s GoFundMe account, Noah’s family found out he had cancer when he was 8, after he noticed that he had a sore shoulder. After undergoing chemotherapy and surgery, he was reportedly told in 2015 that he had no evidence of the disease, but then found out months later that the cancer had re-emerged.

“September 2015 we had his first CT recheck, which showed that his cancer not only returned but had spread to his lungs, and he was given a 7 percent chance of surviving five years,” the website states.

After Noah underwent more treatment, including chemo to try to slow down tumor growth, “Noah has decided that he doesn’t want to do any treatment, so we are going to try to enjoy life, have adventures and make memories,” the GoFundMe site says.

Sterling Heights police officer Dustin Leak, an organizer for Noah’s police experience, said the SHPD learned about Noah’s situation from an organization called Shields of Hope West Michigan. The nonprofit group’s mission is to help public safety officials reach out to local people affected by cancer.

Sterling Heights police and other public safety employees agreed to visit Noah at his home Dec. 9. And they took along approximately 30-40 police and fire vehicles, Leak said.

“There was an armored SWAT vehicle, a Michigan State Police helicopter, several fire engines,” he said. “(Noah) got to go through them and climb through them and got to play with all the buttons, lights and sirens. The Michigan police pilot showed him how the helicopter operates.”

During the event, the Rev. Herb Harbaugh, the SHPD’s chaplain, prayed for the family. Sterling Heights police gave shirts to Noah’s family that have police badges on them, including one for Noah that has “Chief Noah” written on it, Leak said.

“The other departments brought him gifts as well,” Leak said.

The SHPD also helped raise donations to help Noah’s family buy gifts and pay his hospital bills. Leak said the department was able to raise over $3,500 from a number of agencies, including the Sterling Heights, Warren, Troy, Shelby Township and Detroit police departments; the Sterling Heights and Washington Township fire departments; the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office; and the Michigan State Police.

“We also raised some awareness for (the family’s) GoFundMe page, which has seen a little bit of success since then,” Leak said.

Sterling Heights Police Lt. Mario Bastianelli also commented on the meeting with Noah and called it an amazing event.

“It was great to bring awareness to a family’s needs in Sterling Heights,” he said. “I see that the numerous jurisdictions, police departments and fire departments came together to help out an 11-year-old who is in a fight for his life.”

Find out more about the Sterling Heights Police and Fire departments by visiting www.sterling-heights.net. For more information about Shields of Hope West Michigan, visit shieldsofhopewestmi.com.To learn about Noah Gochanour’s fight against cancer, or to find out how to donate, visit www.facebook.com/noahsbattleewings or www.go fundme.com/noahs-wish-list.