Mother-of-two left disfigured after being diagnosed with THREE types of cancer can no longer speak and hasn’t eaten in four years – but says ‘amazing’ daughters can still understand her
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
- Debbie Caquias, 51, born in Aston, Birmingham has had cancer for over ten years
- She’s unable to eat or speak and is severely disfigured from countless surgeries
- Her daughters Gabby, 12, and Kenzie, 10, are able to understand her noises
- Feels ‘incredibly unlucky’ to have been diagnosed with three unrelated cancers
A mother-of-two battling three types of cancer says her greatest wish is to see her daughters grow up.
Debbie Caquias, 51, originally from Aston, Birmingham, has been fighting three unrelated forms of cancer since 2007 and extensive surgery and radiation has left her severely disfigured and unable to eat and talk.
Now fed via a tube in her stomach, she says when she goes shopping with her daughters Gabby, 12, and Kenzie, ten, people stop and stare at her in the street.
However Debbie, who lives in New York, remains strong, supported by her husband Sam and their girls, who have such a bond they can even understand the noises she makes when trying to communicate.
Debbie Caquias, 51, originally from Aston, Birmingham but now living in New York, can no longer speak or eat and has severe facial disfigurement after being diagnosed with three unrelated types of cancer (Pictured with friends in hospital)
Debbie before her diagnosis, with her two daughters, Gabby and Kenzie, now 12 and ten. She says they now understand the noises she makes and have become her biggest champion
Describing herself as a ‘ticking time bomb’: She has been battling cancer for 10 years, and has had three unrelated cancers in her throat, bones and lymph nodes
Debbie was born and raised in the UK but moved to New York 15 years ago.
She was diagnosed with cancer in her tongue in 2007 and endured seven weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy with her head strapped to a bed.
The treatment was so extensive that it burnt her mouth and throat, making it impossible for her to eat. Instead, she had to be fed through her stomach.
It was hoped this would be a temporary measure but, in September 2015, she had reconstructive surgery and her jaw bone disintegrated and her left eye was paralysed, leaving her unable to eat or talk.
On top of that, Debbie has also developed two separate, unrelated cancers in her bones and lymph nodes.
Her third cancer was discovered during a surgery, and had not shown up in any of her previous scans.
She revealed: ‘Having been diagnosed with three separate cancers my doctors say I’m incredibly unlucky.
I feel like a ticking time bomb just waiting for my next dance with the devil.’
She said that she dreams of kissing her children, and is still grieving the function she has lost (pictured here with her husband Sam and daughters Gabby and Kenzie)
After being diagnosed with cancer of the tongue, she had intensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy burning her throat. In September 2015, she had reconstructive surgery and her jaw bone disintegrated, leaving her unable to eat or talk
She went on: ‘It’s simple things I miss so much – smiling, talking, laughing and kissing my babies (although they kiss me often).’
She revealed: ‘I’m very much grieving the loss of function I’ve suffered.’
‘Learning to be stared at has been hard, my girls love to go out shopping with me they translate for me in stores and my oldest Gabby often tells people off for staring.’
She added: ‘My husband and children are my front line supporters.’
‘My girls, although young, are amazing, they help clean my wounds, they won’t let me be down, their whole mantra is ‘not YET momma’ and we often talk about ‘when momma can eat we will have…..’
She went on to reveal: ‘I have my moments when it all gets a bit much and I feel sorry for me but between how my dad taught me to pick myself up and fight and my girls, who have every hope for a great future, I can’t sit back and give up.
‘I’m rare, people don’t generally survive my cancer and not twice so I feel blessed to be here.’
Debbie’s husband Sam, who works as a trauma nurse, wakes her at 5.30am to give her thyroid medicine so that when she gets up at 7am she can plug herself in for food.
Debbie, pictured with her husband Sam, who acts as her carer. She says her marriage is stronger as a result of what the pair have been through
It’s a process that takes around one-and-a-half hours six times a day. She says she always feels hungry.
She said: ‘I have everything nutritional through a peg tube, it’s been almost four years since I ate or drank anything.’
‘For my emotional self I still make a cup of tea and use my Gtube – if I’m really lucky I sometimes get the taste.
But she revealed: ‘My marriage is stronger as a result of all we have been through.’
Sam has used up all of his annual leave and is trying not to take unpaid days off in a bid to keep some normality for the children.
Debbie loves spending time with her girls, volunteering and being involved in community causes and events, such as the Parent Support Team at her girls martial arts school.
Debbie added: ‘My greatest wish is to be around for my daughters as they are growing up and at some point, hopefully, be able to look in a mirror again.’
Her strength, she says, comes from her dad, who sadly died from oesophagus cancer in 2001.
Debbie, who has been unable to eat for four years, said her greatest wish is to be around for her daughters growing up
But doctors in New York have exhausted all their options for Debbie. They say that immunotherapy – a treatment that boosts the body’s natural immune system defences to fight cancer – could save her life, but it can cost $200,000 dollars a year.
She went on: ‘They haven’t been able to identify where this cancer originated so we are running blind as to what to look out for – immunotherapy, if it works, could give me a chance to fight this before I’m fighting for my life again.
‘I refuse to give up hope and think, if I can find the right person, we can fix this.’
Debbie’s friends and family are determined to raise funds for the treatment she desperately needs, and are hoping a cosmetic surgeon will see her story and come forward with the skills to be able to reconstruct her face and give Debbie her smile back.
Her sister Jayne Yarrington, 52, lives in Tamworth and goes out to support Debbie as much as she can.
Debbie’s sister revealed she is still able to communicate with her daughters (pictured with Debbie) by making noises
She explained: ‘It has been so hard but Debbie is still so positive and continues to fight.
‘Debbie can’t talk, she just makes noises but the girls can understand what she’s saying, whether she wants them to clean their rooms or do their homework.
The team have set up a GoFundMe page and have already raised more than $13,000 (£10,000) in two weeks.
The team are also hoping to help cover many of the expenses that go along with the extreme level of care Debbie needs – surgeries, hospital co-pays, nursing care and more.
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