The owner of Franco’s Pizzeria has been battling cervical cancer for three years.
There have been many ups and downs in Debra Nix’s three-year battle with stage 3b cervical cancer. She thought she had it beat after a radical hysterectomy and radiation and chemotherapy treatments, only to see it come back again.
This time, the tumors are spreading.
But Nix, a Mount Dora resident who owns a pizzeria with her husband in Ocoee, refuses to give up. And her friends and family are fighting alongside her.
They are organizing a fundraising festival that takes place at Bill Breeze Park in Ocoee from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, fittingly during Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. The community is invited to attend and help bring in money to help Nix with her mounting medical bills.
Admission to the park is free. Wristbands are $10 and include all children's activities: bounce houses, character visits, face painting, popcorn and Sweet Jessie's Homemade Ice Cream, Dino Dig fossil hunt and performances by world record holder Bruce Sarafian.
There will be live music, including AJ, School of Rock and Josh Williams. The Ocoee Fire Department will take a fire truck for children to explore. Vendors will have freebies to share with attendees. Raffles will be held, and meals will be available for purchase.
Food donations and volunteers are still needed for the event. For information, contact Jessica Hardy at (443) 803-6935 or Nikki Fosnaugh at (407) 655-9034.
Nix has been keeping loved ones informed throughout her medical journey in periodic updates on her GoFundMe page. She has shared an intimate glimpse into her insurance tales, her alternative treatment options and her surgical procedures.
She began an aggressive form of chemotherapy in August 2016 that involved three different types of chemo every 21 days for six months. She was believed to be in remission until she had surgery last August for an unknown mass.
It was a cancerous tumor, and it had spread, and because of its location, it couldn’t be removed.
Nix has since switched doctors in hopes of a new battle plan that will rid her of the cancer completely.
“There has to be something out there to cure me,” she wrote in an update two months ago. “I’ve never in my life felt so helpless. The tumors have grown, and my right kidney is blocked. This can’t be the end to my story; it just can’t be. Please continue praying harder than ever for myself and my family.”
One month ago, she wrote another update: “I am not backing down. I am a fighter and have been my whole life. The only difference now is I have so much more to fight for. My children and my husband are my strength. … I pray to the good Lord above that this a beginning to the end of this battle and that I can have my life back.”
On Christmas Eve, Nix was rushed to the hospital with severe pain from the tumors. Doctors could do nothing but send her home. Because the cancer has obstructed her kidney, she cannot take even ibuprofen for pain.
Nix, who has gone from 140 pounds to a mere 93, said strength has always been on her side, but she is burdened with the thought that she is no longer the strong one in her family. Her family has taken over those duties, with her husband staying home to care for her and their 18-year-old daughter keeping the family business, Franco’s Pizzeria, open.
The family experienced another setback when the pizza place was vandalized on Christmas night. The glass front door was smashed, but the Nixes don’t think anything was taken. A glass company donated its services to have the door replaced.
Nix returned to the hospital last week in severe pain, and doctors discovered both kidneys are damaged from radiation. She has had several surgeries in the last few days to try to bypass the blockages, and Nix said she has confidence in her new team of doctors at Florida Hospital Oncology.
“I’m determined guys,” Nix wrote in her Jan. 5 update. “This has been one heck of a long road that I’m ready to get to the end of. I know that I still have a long road to recovery, but with such an amazing support system behind me, I have faith that I can do this! Cancer, I’m coming at you full force for the final time and you’re going down. Keep those prayers coming guys. They’re working.”
To make a monetary donation to Nix and her cancer fight, go to gofundme.com/x4fks-medical-expenses; go through PayPal and direct it to the email [email protected]; or stop by Franco’s, 5 W. Silver Star Road.