The battle against cancer is never an easy one. However, with the support of family, friends, colleagues, and an entire community, the challenging journey can feel a little more comfortable.

That’s the goal of the Trumbull Police Department’s Beards for Borucki fund-raiser, which has been launched throughout December for veteran officer Michael Borucki, who was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in 2013 and has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy over the last two years as the disease has spread from his lungs to his brain and spine.

“It means a whole lot that they’re going all out for me,” said Borucki, a 19-year veteran of the force. “They’re like my brothers and sisters — we rely on each other for all needs, both work and personal, and this is a tremendous display of how close a bond we have together.”

The monthlong campaign means that typically clean-shaven Trumbull police officers will have an unusual sight in the mirror each morning. Through their growing beards or goatees, the department is seeking donations from its own members.

Facial hair isn’t the only way they’re giving back to one of their own.

The department has set up a ride service for their ill colleague, who’s unable to drive because of his treatment.

“We’re so touched by all the support,” said Christine Borucki, Michael Borucki’s wife and the mother of their two teenage sons.

“They’ve offered us everything and we can’t express our appreciation enough,” she added.

In addition to the rides and the beards, which will be trimmed at a “shave-off” ceremony at Jo Davi Salon and Boutique on Monroe Turnpike at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9, Trumbull police are accepting donations from the community at a sponsored fund-raiser at Vazzy’s Four Seasons in Stratford from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8.

“We’re going to support Mike any way possible,” said Detective Rocco Testi, who’s been an officer for 22 years and moved up the ranks with Borucki.

“This campaign for the beards has been a couple of months in the making,” he explained. “We had to receive permission because we’re usually only allowed to grow mustaches, but we’ve gotten the full support from the police union’s executive board and Chief [Michael] Lombardo.”

As does Officer Borucki, Detective Testi sees the fund-raiser as a perfect representation of what it means to serve as a police officer.

“We were all devastated when we heard the news — it really hit home,” the detective said. “Mike is like family to us, so when you hear news like that, guys will do anything to support him — whether that means working a shift for him or giving him a ride to the doctor’s office.

“I know a lot of officers who have used overtime hours to cover Mike’s shifts since he was diagnosed so he can remain an active member of the force,” he added. “Town Hall and the town’s administration have been fully supportive of making that possible, and we can’t thank them enough for their compassion and support as we rally behind our ill colleague.”

Mike-Gyver

Officer Borucki said he became a police officer because his father-in-law, who was a police captain, suggested he take the test.

“He passed it with flying colors,” his wife boasted.

Away from headquarters, he took on the role of active dad and craftsman — a man who was capable of fixing anything.

And that’s how he earned the nickname Mike-Gyver around the house

“Mike was always rolling on the floors with our boys when they were kids, and then he was off riding dirt bikes with them as they grew older,” Christine recalled.

“He was capable of fixing anything — the paper shredder, the boys’ Xbox, the sink in our kitchen, you name it,” she said. “It could be mechanical, metal or wood — it wouldn’t matter. Get his hands on a set of tools and he’ll magically fix it.”

It’s a determination he’s been carrying with him since day one.

“I love challenges,” he said. “I’ve loved solving them my whole life.”

A second family

Back at the office, the veteran cop has had a penchant for helping out fellow officers in need over the years, as Detective Testi can attest.

The ill cop had been working his routine 4 p.m.-to-midnight shift up until 40 days ago, when he got the report back that the cancer had spread and he would have to go on full-time leave.

“I worked that shift for 14 years,” he said. “In January, it’s going to be my 20th anniversary.”

Inside the chambers of the police headquarters, he remembered fondly some of his favorite memories on the job, which include a police chase that went from Trumbull to Newtown.

“Oh, yeah, we got him,” he smiled. “He took us through Bridgeport and Monroe before we got him at the flagpole right there in the center of Newtown.”

Besides the action, he misses the day-to-day operations of being an officer in Trumbull.

“I love it here,” he said. “I love hanging out with everyone and being busy.”

The challenge

While his fellow officers are growing and donating — it’s $100 to grow a beard or $50 to grow a goatee, Officer Borucki will be undergoing a new round of treatment for the spreading disease.

Originally diagnosed two years ago, right before Thanksgiving 2013, he continues to fight on despite the unknown the future holds.

“It’s unfortunate that someone in their 40s would get it so bad like this, especially a non-smoker, but that’s the way cancer works,” Christine said. “It spreads rapidly.”

The doctors haven’t been able to pinpoint what exactly caused the disease in the first place, which casts further ambiguity for the family.

“It could be anything,” Christine said. “There’s nothing in his family history …

“The doctors are doing all they can,” she added.

As the doctors continue to press on for a solution, Officer Borucki knows he has to apply one of the most valuable lessons he learned from his time in the field.

“You don’t know what you’re getting when you pull someone over,” he said. “You have to have an open mind and bulldoze through whatever you might be feeling and keep moving forward.”

More information

The funds raised from the beards and goatees, and the dinner at Vazzy’s and shave-off at Jo Davi Salon, will go directly to Borucki and his family.

Tickets to the dinner are $40, and may be purchased by calling 203-261-3665.

The salon is located at 140 Monroe Tpk.

The shave-off will be catered with a buffet by a local restaurant, Prime One Eleven of 51 Monroe Tpk. in Trumbull.

Bic Corp. of Milford will be providing shavers as a show of support. Any other businesses or persons who wish to support the event may do so by calling detective Robert Coppola at the police department at 203-261-3665.