Community rallies around 8-year-old cancer victim

Gage Krupovage

By TERRY GROOVER
tgroover@theyukonreview.com

Family and friends of a Yukon couple facing a tragedy that no parent should ever face, are coming together to help them prepare.
Their son is going to die.
Gage Krupovage was recently diagnosed with differentiated chordoma, which is a rare form of cancer. Doctors have given him very little time to live, said his aunt, Beth Wilbur.
The eight-year-old Yukon boy should have started third grade at Shedeck Elementary School in Yukon last week. Instead, Gage is at Children’s Hospital at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center.
He is the son of Deedra and Gary Krupovage.
Wilbur and several family friends are trying to raise money to help the family as they go through the tragedy.
Friend Angey Thomas said several fundraising events are planned over the next few weeks and a gofundme account has been established.
Among the fundraisers are a spaghetti dinner that will be held at the Mustang Masonic Lodge beginning at 5 p.m. Sept. 14. There also will be a silent auction.
In addition, the same day there will be a bake sale at Homeland on Czech Hall Road and 10th Street.
Be-You-tique in Yukon is hosting a a fundraiser from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Thomas said several local stores also have allowed them to place donation canisters to help raise funds.
Donations to the gofundme account can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/f/8-year-old-boy-fighting-for-his-life.
All of the funds raised will help the family as they prepare to move forward.
Meanwhile, Smith and Turner Mortuary has agreed to donate its services once that time arrives, said owner Tim Ingram.
Thomas and Wilbur said that despite the dire diagnosis, Gage is in good spirits. He was honorarily sworn into the Army on Wednesday, and was given a private tour of the Oklahoma City Zoo last Friday with his family.
“They told him on Monday (Aug. 12. But, he knew before they told him,” Thomas said.
Gage has two brothers. Xander, 7, and Easton, 2, are his main concerns, she said.
“Gage has always been a people pleaser. He wants to make sure everyone else is OK. He wants to make sure everyone is happy,” Wilbur said.

THE DIAGNOSIS
Gage is your typical eight-year-old boy.
The family describes him as being extremely smart, loves math and science, and is a really good baseball player who played for the Mustang Bulldogs last spring.
At the end of the last school year, Gage began to complain about not feeling well.
His mother took him to their pediatrician, who originally diagnosed him as having a virus. The doctor suggested that it would run its course.
As summer began, Gage didn’t seem to be getting any better. So, Deedra took him back to the doctor, who suggested they take him to Children’s Hospital.
His trip to the hospital in July resulted initially in a CAT scan, but not an MRI.
At a later visit to Children’s, an MRI uncovered a tumor on the upper portion of his spine.
Wilbur said a treatment plan was developed that included three surgeries that would remove the tumor and fuse his spine.
Unfortunately, before that could occur, Gage’s symptoms worsened.
His speech began to slur and he had trouble walking.
On Aug. 1, another MRI showed the tumor had spread to his brain and had quadrupled in size.
“It has been very fast,” Wilbur said.
“Once they found what it was, everything has flipped upside down twice,” Thomas said.
Doctors have told the family there is nothing they can do other than to make Gage comfortable.
“It is rare that it has spread so quickly. They are usually slow-growing,” Wilbur said.
Finding this type of cancer in children is rare. It is usually found in adults over 50, according to the Chordoma Foundation website.
Chordoma is a type of cancer that occurs in bones of the skull base and spine. It accounts for about 3 percent of all bone tumors and about 20 percent of spinal tumors, the website states.
In addition, they usually grow slowly and have no initial symptoms.
It is diagnosed in about 1 in 1 million people each year.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT
With time running out for Gage, the community has drawn together to help.
Wilbur said the outpouring of support has been unreal.
“It’s been almost overwhelming everything that people want to do to help,” she said.
The help is needed.
Dad, Gary, recently started a new job with a company that contracts with FedEx.
Because of that, the family has no insurance, and Gary isn’t eligible for paid time off.
He hasn’t been able to work since Gage’s terminal diagnosis.
“He doesn’t want to miss any time with his son,” Thomas said.
Any money raised from the fundraisers will be used to help the family cover related expenses.
For more information about ways to help the family or to make a donation to the yard sale, contact Wilbur at bethwilbur2005@hotmail.com or Thomas at angey@sbcglobal.net.

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