Family raising money for local boy with rare cancer

Benefits Jan. 5 at Luxury Lanes in Ferndale, Jan. 26 at Madison Heights Eagles

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published December 19, 2018

 Devin Turoski and his cousin, Olivia Rubicz, share a moment earlier this month. Devin is beginning the fight against a very rare form of cancer. His family is hoping that the community will rally behind the 11-year-old from Madison Heights. A pair of local fundraisers are planned for January. There is also a GoFundMe account.

Devin Turoski and his cousin, Olivia Rubicz, share a moment earlier this month. Devin is beginning the fight against a very rare form of cancer. His family is hoping that the community will rally behind the 11-year-old from Madison Heights. A pair of local fundraisers are planned for January. There is also a GoFundMe account.

Photo provided by Lisa Shaw

Advertisement

MADISON HEIGHTS — When Devin Turoski, 11, a sixth-grader at Wilkinson Middle School, complained to his mother Jessica Shaw that his head was hurting after a haircut, she was concerned.

There was a lump on her son’s head.  

“As a mom, you need to go with your gut instinct when your child says they’re not feeling well,” said Jessica, a resident of Madison Heights.

Devin was taken to a hospital in late November, where doctors determined that the lump was a tumor or infection, but not necessarily cancer. The doctor said there was no rush for a follow-up.

But Jessica still didn’t feel at ease. So she took Devin to another doctor. What followed was a series of tests that led to a cancer diagnosis in early December. Not only was it cancer, but it was an extremely rare form called Langerhans cell histiocytosis, or LCH, which affects only one or two out of every 1 million people.

“It was just awful,” Jessica said, recalling how she felt when she heard the news. “I work at a doctor’s office, and I got the call while I was at work. I noticed my phone was ringing like crazy, so I stepped in the bathroom. Then they told me, and I blacked out. I have no idea what happened next. My fiancé came and picked me up. I took two days to be at home with Devin. Then I tried to go back to work, but I just couldn’t think straight, and I was making mistakes. I just couldn’t comprehend the world around me.”

Jessica’s stepmother and Devin’s grandmother Lisa Shaw — also a Madison Heights resident — said the news was emotionally devastating for the whole family.

“It all happened so quick. It’s been a whirlwind for us,” Lisa said. “We’re trying to stay strong.”  

Since then, Devin has undergone surgery, the doctors removing the growth that had been literally eating through his skull. The surgeons said it was only a hairline fracture away from reaching the brain. He also recently had an MRI scan and skin biopsies taken. The family is trying to determine whether there is any connection between the cancer and the skin rashes he’s been having.

“If I hadn’t (gotten a second opinion), the first doctor would’ve sent me home, and then Devin wouldn’t have had surgery or been diagnosed yet,” Jessica said. “What I want to make sure is that parents are aware of certain situations. I’ve been doing research, and parents with kids who have LCH have been reaching out to me. This appears to be becoming more common.”   


The journey begins
The road ahead will be long, Jessica and Lisa said. Devin will have to contend with at least a year of chemotherapy — although at this point, at least, radiation will not be needed.

To help cover the costs of Devin’s treatment, the family has planned two fundraisers during the month of January. They have also established a GoFundMe account collecting donations and they’re selling T-shirts through their Facebook group, “TeamDevin.”

The two fundraisers are:

• Saturday, Jan. 5: A bowling fundraiser will take place from noon to 3 p.m. at Luxury Lanes & Lounge, located at 600 E. Nine Mile Road in Ferndale. For $20 supporting Devin, attendees will enjoy two games of bowling (bowling shoes included). There will also be pizza and pop, as well as 50/50 and basket raffles.

• Saturday, Jan. 26: A spaghetti dinner fundraiser will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Madison Heights Eagles club, located at 604 W. 11 Mile Road, for $5 per person. There will be live music by local country artists, as well as 50/50 and basket raffles. For more information, call Bill Bedard at (586) 524-2981.   

While they will need help managing the costs of Devin’s treatment, his mother says that her family is thankful for the blessings they already have.

“Honestly, the kid has everything under the sun. I’ve had so many people offer to adopt him for Christmas, but there are other kids who can probably use it more than him,” Jessica said. “We have received so much support. The main thing is to just keep my mind busy and to work on fundraising.”

She said that while the money raised will be helpful, “I would even appreciate people just liking the ‘TeamDevin’ page (on Facebook), so that more people are aware of this rare condition.”

Lisa said her grandson is a sports fanatic who loves basketball, and he currently lives at home with his stepdad and his 16-year-old brother. She said that Devin has kept a good attitude through it all.

“He’s a real spitfire — a lot of energy,” Lisa said. “Even right now, he’s very positive and very outgoing and very passionate. He’s very positive right now — he’s just an amazing kid.”

To donate to the cause, search for “TeamDevin” on Facebook, or visit the GoFundMe campaign at gf.me/u/n8cf3c.

Advertisement