Cover Stories, News

Cancer victim Debbie Osarere’s last days

-Encounter with her mom

+Interview with close friends

Debbie Osarere Idiagbonya was a popular cancer survivor whose journey many people followed on the social media. She finally lost the battle. She died on Friday, April 1, 2016.

When she died, she was receiving treatment for lung and skull cancer at the Howard University Teaching Hospital, Washington DC, USA.  She was diagnosed with stage 4 Invasive ductal carcinoma (breast cancer) in 2012, which she survived after treatment and mastectomy in 2015. She was also down with bone cancer which she also survived.

ENCOMIUM Weekly had a chat with her via her email in 2013, while she was recuperating and she confirmed that she was responding to treatment and feeling better after a mastectomy. In April 2015, she was diagnosed with bone cancer which was treated at the same Howard University Teaching Hospital. She responded well yet again to treatment and survived it. At this point, even her doctors considered her a miracle to have survived breast and bone cancer.

On Saturday, January 30, 2016, she took to her Instagram page to break the news to her followers that the cancer had resurfaced and metasized to her bones and skull wall.

“Just because I didn’t get chemotherapy on time, the cancer went to play a terrible game on my system, but trust God, He will never forsake His own people.

“Was hospitalized from Christmas to January 29, the condition gave my medical team hypertension before they finally discovered the cause. John 11 vs 4 says this sickness is not unto death but for the son of God to be glorified. Still in severe pain but I am grateful I made it through. Cancer sucks!

“Cancer is in my skull wall and also affected my lungs called pleural effusion on abnormal tissue of fluid in the layers of tissue lungs and inside of my chest. I have a tube thoracastomy on my right side to help with draining of fluid at home. Hope to start chemotherapy soonest so it can help with the healing.”

She posted pictures of herself with tubes fitted into parts of her body so people could understand and see what she was going through.

A gofundme page was created to help raise funds for the new treatments as her medical insurance couldn’t pay for her expensive treatment anymore. Gofundme is a popular website used mostly in America to raise funds.

On the gofundme page, she properly stated her story for those who would be stumbling on her story for the first time. It goes:

“My name is Deborah Osarere Idiagbonya. I have been living with stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma since 2012. An online campaign was created #SaveDebbie to raise funds for me by my friends in my home country, Nigeria which enabled me come to the US, where I have been receiving treatment at Howard University Teaching Hospital till date. I went on remission in April to September 2014, before the cancer resurfaced and I started a fresh treatment of chemotherapy. Now, my cancer has metasized to the bone and skull wall which is now affecting the lungs to function well. The money will be used to continue my treatments and any major surgeries. I need the funds as soon as possible to enable me continue with my treatments. If people can help me raise this money, they will keep me alive and I would be eternally grateful to them like I have been to Nigerians that donated towards my treatment in 2012, because they were used by God to keep me alive till this moment when my doctors at that time said I had only one month to live. Please, help keep me alive and don’t forget to continually put me in your prayers because that is a major key to the cause of my healing.”

She sought $30,000 on the gofundme page and within a week a total sum of $34,517 had been raised by 1,070 people, to which she showed her appreciation and proceeded to start treatment.

She died in the early hours of Friday, April 1, 2016, at the Howard University Teaching Hospital, Washington DC, USA.

She died at 31 and is survived by her mom and siblings who live in Lagos. She lost her father on her birthday on August 1, 2012 after he battled with stroke.



Debbie remained cheerful, strong, hopeful and full of life till the time of her death. She tried to keep her followers posted on her treatment progress so they would know that the money donated was not going to waste. The cancer had metazied to her skull wall, left eye (she could not see with it), spinal cord and pelvics. She had an abnormal build up of fluid in the layers of the tissue between her lungs and inside her chest. Her sister had to help her drain the fluid at home with the help of catheter pluerex.

At the time of death, she had undergone 3 out of the scheduled 12 sessions of chemotherapy. Just five days before her death, she posted a picture of herself looking very lean with the caption:

“What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Oh precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow, no other friend I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

“He is risen and so shall I rise and be free from my plaque. Mark 5 vs 34. Preparing for tomorrow’s chemotherapy treatment.”



Debbie’s remains would be put to rest in America where she died, on Saturday, April 16, 2016. There would be a quiet church service. Another gofundme page was created to help raise funds for her burial. The amount to be raised is $30,000.

Excerpts from the created gofundme page:

“It is with heavy hearts and great humility that we, Debbie’s generals have come to you and ask for assistance. We need to raise $30,000 for funeral expensive. Debbie did not have a chance to realize her potential as a scientist. Any income she could have earned did not materialize. Esther, Debbie’s full-time care-giver, used to work for minimum wage at a nursing home. The two women survived through community support and God’s grace, really.

“If Debbie were here, she would not want us to cry but to hold on to the good memories we shared, the laughter, her courage and how she inspired us. Please, help us send this strong woman home in a befitting way. We do not plan to throw her any party but to pray for her in church and put her to rest. The money requested are funds we were charged at the funeral home to get her body from the morgue, caskets and the cemetery where she will finally be laid to rest.

“We will also give a detailed breakdown of how the expenses are put to use. Thank you and God bless you for your continuous love and support over the years.

“Cancer is an expensive disease, on average, the cost of cancer care is $141,000. The average cost for new drugs cost an average of $10,000, some drugs are as costly as $30,000 a month. Patients typically pay anywhere between 20 percent and 30 percent of their treatments. In addition to the cost of drugs, there are the drugs to combat the side effects of treatment, co-payments, facility fees and supplies. Debbie’s case, the supplies were specialized tubes and bottles to drain fluid from her lungs. The supplies cost over $4,000 a month. The financial impact of a cancer diagnosis is devastating to a family with insurance and money. The cancer diagnosis is financially catastrophic when you are poor.”

As at the time of this reportage, $8,762 had been raised by 157 people in just about 6 days of creating the gofundme page.

Friends and followers have taken to her Instagram page to rain torrents of tributes on the 31 year old lady who’s dreams were cut short by cancer.



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