At 8 years old, Devlin lost his leg to bone cancer, but now his assistance dog Jinx, requires heart surgery to survive. Picture: Alix Sweeney
At 8 years old, Devlin lost his leg to bone cancer, but now his assistance dog Jinx, requires heart surgery to survive. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Teen amputee fighting for his best mate’s life

At JUST eight years old, Devlin Dodds had his right leg amputated to stop the spread of an aggressive bone tumour, now he's fighting to save his sick puppy in need of life-saving surgery.

Initially thought to be an infection on his heel, it would be months later and multiple mis­diagnosis before Devlin and his mother Elvira Welboren were told that treatment would require amputating his leg, and then rigorous chemotherapy and radiation.

Ms Welboren said the moment will be etched in her mind forever.

"There was a doctor who was so abrupt and he said your son has chondrosarcoma - a very aggressive form of cancer and he's going to lose his leg and that was it," Ms Welboren said.

"I didn't know what to say. I was choked up and just held back my tears not to cry in front of ­Devlin. A few days later, we had to be in Brisbane because that's where the surgery was."


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After three months of chemotherapy, Devlin had his leg removed in October 2013 and it would be 12 months before he returned home to Townsville.

Ms Welboren said the experience was traumatic for them as well as her daughter Zita as they watched families they'd become close with at the oncology ward say goodbye to their children.

It would be 15 friends who died in that time, including Devlin's best friend.

Now 15, Devlin's cancer journey has been tough as the Townsville teen suffers from the after-effects of chemotherapy drugs

Suffering from "survivors guilt" as well as the after-effects caused from the potent chemotherapy drugs, Devlin found comfort in his support dog Jinx.

Devlin said he suffers chronic fatigue, memory loss, excruciating nerve pain, and depression.

He's due to go for ­another surgery next month to ­remove a bony spur on his tibia, but said all he was focused on was keeping Jinx alive because "Jinx keeps him alive".

"She's got an extra blood vessel that keeps enlarging her heart, so it's pumping too much oxygen," Devlin said.

"The doctor said it will lead to her lungs filling with liquid and cut her lifespan, so we really need to get it.

"When she sleeps we watch her to count her breath, I'm terrified."

Devlin said he couldn't let himself think about Jinx not being by his side because he doesn't have to say anything and she "gets it".

"My mental health would plummet," he said. "I don't have friends at school, I come home to Jinx," Devlin said.

Ms Welboren said that the ­family needed help to pay for Jinx's medical expenses quoted at $8000 plus after-surgery care, so she's set up a GoFundMe.

"We didn't have pet insurance," she said.

"My car just died and I'm borrowing our neighbours' and trying to figure out how I'm going to get a new one that will fit Devlin's wheelchair.

"I always try to look at the positive and am just thankful Devlin is still alive, so I said we will do this no matter what."

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Originally published as Teen amputee fighting for his best mate's life