Fundraiser organized to pay medical treatments for Franco's Pizzeria owner

To help cover medical treatment costs for her sister-in-law, Falecia Handley is organizing a poker run August 14 in Winter Garden.

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  • | 11:00 a.m. July 31, 2016
Debra Nix, 34, is the owner of Franco’s Pizzeria in Ocoee.
Debra Nix, 34, is the owner of Franco’s Pizzeria in Ocoee.
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Debra Nix was having a lot of pain for a while, but it took some time before she finally got an answer from her doctors. It was the answer nobody wants to hear at any age — especially not at 34 as a mother of three.

Nix, the owner of Franco’s Pizzeria in Ocoee, was diagnosed with stage 3B adenona malignum, a rare form of cervical cancer. 

To treat it, Nix had a radical hysterectomy and radiation therapy. It seemed to work at first, but after a follow-up exam six months later, they discovered it had returned and had spread to other areas in her pelvic region. 

Now, Nix is weighing out her limited treatment options. 

“She might go through chemo as sort of a last-ditch effort, or she may have a really expensive surgery,” said Nix’s sister-in-law, Falecia Handley. “She hasn’t really decided which way she’s going to go yet, but either is really the last option, and they may or may not really work.”

The surgery Nix would require this time is a pelvic exenteration. Due to the drastic lifestyle change such a surgery entails, Nix and her family are researching alternative treatment options first, some of which would require her to leave the country. 

“It’s a very expensive, life-altering surgery,” Handley said. “So she may do the chemo. If she does the chemo, then she’ll be needing over $600 a month for medication that she’ll have to pay out-of-pocket. And then if she does the surgery, she’s going to require an in-home nurse for quite some time to help her recover.”

To help Nix pay the financial costs of potential treatments, Handley is organizing a poker run fundraiser. The poker run will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 14 and begin at the Winter Garden VFW. The ride will continue to the Lake Harris Hideaway, JJ’s Lounge and Package and back to the Winter Garden VFW. 

Single individuals who want to participate on a bike or motorcycle can register for $15. A couple can register for $25. Anyone attending solely for the entertainment and food can pay $5. 

Handley can tell the situation has been hard on Nix and her family, but she’s proud of the strength she’s shown. 

“It’s been pretty devastating to her, but she’s really resilient,” Handley said about Nix. “She’s done an amazing job, she keeps on a happy face every day, she still does everything that she can for her kids. She goes to work almost every single day … from the outside, you wouldn’t (guess) what she is going through right now.”

Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]