A brave little boy has raised £2,800 for his six-year-old best friend who has a rare cancer – by letting her shave off his hair and make him ‘look just like her.’
Lulu DeVries and Oisín Ruskin met on their first day at Great Denham Primary School in Bedford, in September 2017.
However shortly after starting in reception, Lulu was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma which had already spread to her bones, bone marrow and lymphatic system.
The brave schoolgirl has since endured rounds of chemotherapy, surgery, a stem cell harvest, stints in isolation, radiotherapy and is currently having immunotherapy.
Her desperate parents have been told it’s her ‘last chance’, and even if it works, there is a 50 per cent chance she’ll relapse.
However they have found a £162,000 trial treatment in America which claims to reduce relapse chance to 10 per cent – and best pal Oisín was desperate to help out.
Six-year-old Oisín was determined to raise money for his best pal, pictured together, and smiled as Lulu took the clippers to his long locks
Lulu DeVries, six, pictured in hospital, is bravely battling cancer with the support of her best friend Oisín Ruskin who offered to shave off his hair to help raise money for her treatment
After persuading his parents and asking for the target to be £2,000 -not the safer amount of £100 that they suggested – Oisín let Lulu take the clippers to his locks.
Lulu – who has lost her hair through treatment – cut off Oisín’s locks for the fundraising event and when he was shown his new look in the mirror, he said to Lulu: ‘I look like you now’.
Oisín smashed his £100 target within three days of setting up a JustGiving page, which currently stands at £2,800.
His mother Jo Ruskin, 40, added: ‘I’m so proud of him. He knows that there is medicine Lulu needs which isn’t available in this country.
‘I was speaking about fundraising ideas with my husband and Oisín overheard and asked how it all worked.
‘He’s a bit of a cheeky-chappy but he’s also stubborn. You could hear him saying to Lulu “don’t forget about his bit”. It really brought them together as friends.’
The cheeky little boy pulled a funny face before Lulu shaved off his hair for the fundraiser
After his hair was cut by his best friend, Oisín smiled and told Lulu: ‘I look like you now’
Proud Joanne explained that she was a little dubious at first about the idea of a sponsored head shave, but that her little boy was determined to help Lulu.
She said: ‘Oisín turned round and said he was going to make the target £2,000. We thought it was a bit ambitious so we just said “let’s keep it at £100”.
‘Initially we arranged to have Oisín’s hairdresser do the shave but she suggested it might be better for Lulu to do it.
Lulu’s dad Rob DeVries, 51, added: ‘It was a special moment. He’s a determined young boy.
‘At other fundraisers he’d go up to people and tell them what he was doing and then come back to Jo and say: “Here you go mum. Here’s another fiver”.
Lulu and Oisín met on their first day at school in September 2017 but weeks later teachers noticed Lulu was fatigued and would fall asleep in lessons.
Lulu and Oisín, pictured together, met on their first day at primary school in Bedford
The pair, pictured after the charity haircut, quickly became best pals but soon after starting school teachers noticed Lulu was incredibly fatigued and would fall asleep in lessons
Doctors found Lulu, pictured left during treatment in Bedford hospital and right now, had a tumour ‘the size of a grapefruit’ and she was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma
Concerned dad Rob took Lulu to the doctors where a blood test showed her to be anaemic, and she was given iron to supplement her diet.
But in the weeks that followed Lulu struggled to walk the half-a-mile to school and would ask her parents to carry her up to bed.
Lulu was referred to a consultant at Bedford Hospital in January 2018 where doctors carried out an MRI scan on her legs and hips, and noticed a shadowy area over her kidney.
It was a tumour ‘the size of a grapefruit’ and she was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma which had spread to her bones, bone marrow and lymphatic system.
Her father Rob said: ‘Compared to her days of running around pre-school in a blaze of excitement, Lulu could barely get through a whole day.’
Oisín was determined to raise £2000 for Lulu, pictured shaving her best friend’s hair, even after his parents advised him to aim for £100 at first
His mother Jo Ruskin, 40, said she was ‘so proud’ of her cheeky son. Oisín is pictured before his head is shaved
Lulu, pictured as she carefully cuts Oisín’s hair, is currently having immunotherapy, which doctor’s said is her last treatment option
‘We heard the words that no parent wants to hear – your child has cancer. It felt like a dagger. The first few days after the diagnosis were a total daze.
‘It was brought on by a birth defect so it’s just been there growing without anyone realising. It wasn’t as if something was sticking out.’
Lulu started chemotherapy and in April was told her cancer was shrinking after 11 rounds. She then had an eight-hour operation in July, removing 95 per cent of the tumour.
However Lulu continued to be fed through a tube to her stomach due to the chemotherapy ruining her appetite.
In August Lulu continued her chemotherapy – up to 17 doses a week – and had her stem cells harvested before being put in isolation for 33 days.
Cheeky Oisín would tell people about his head shave fundraiser while at other events for Lulu
Lulu, pictured during treatment, has to be fed via a tube due to chemo ruining her appetite
Lulu, pictured before her diagnosis, also had her stem cells harvested before being put in isolation for 33 days
Lulu is currently having immunotherapy, and they hope it will leave her cancer-free – but doctors have warned even if it works there is a 50/50 chance it will come back.
When Rob asked doctors what happens after immunotherapy he said they were told: ‘Nothing – that’s it.’
But Rob and Clare were told by other parents visiting the ward about pioneering treatment in the US.
The vaccine-based treatment called bivalent vaccine in New York is said to train the white blood cells to constantly look for cancer cells.
Rob said: ‘Before it felt like we were walking into a casino and betting everything on a 50/50 chance.
Lulu’s parents now hope she can take part in a treatment in New York which is said to train the white blood cells to constantly look for cancer cells. Lulu and Oisín are pictured together
Lulu’s father Rob said the head shave ‘was a special moment. Oisín’s a determined young boy’ Pictured are the six-year-old best friends together
‘But after being told that we felt the odds were more in our favour but unfortunately it comes at a price. But cancer leaves you with no choices.’
Lulu’s family launched their appeal to raise £162,000 so she can access this potentially life-saving treatment before the trial ends.
Rob, who is about to begin a 12 marathons in 12 days challenge, said: ‘The amount is daunting but we can’t put a price on our little girl’s life.
‘There’s a 50 per cent chance of Lulu relapsing after her treatment ends. And of those who relapse 90 per cent of children die.
‘With the treatment Lulu has a 90 per cent of surviving. So it’s a no brainer really. She has been so brave, she is our little hero.
‘But we’ll do anything to save our daughter’s life and prevent a relapse.’
To donate visit Lulu’s JustGiving page