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Debra Karby

A Young Mother Needs Your Help

by Cara Paiuk, October 15, 2012

[Edito's note: This article first appeared in the Times of Israel ( and is being reprinted here with permission.

While it was awaiting to be published in the Times of Israel, I got  a message on my facebook page, from the writer, a former Winnipegger:

"I am a former Winnipegger. You were a couple of years ahead of me in school."

Have you heard yet about Debra Karby from Vancouver? Sheis a young mom of 2 with liver cancer. She needs a live liver transplant. She has made a public plea and it is starting to go viral.

Since I am from Winnipeg, you are the first I am contacting to see if you are also interested in running the story." ]

A Young Mother Needs Your Help

by Cara Paiuk

A few months ago I heard that my cousin was sick. Apparently she wasn't feeling well and went to the doctor, as we all would do, but her test results were anything but normal.  She had an aggressive cancer invading 75% of her liver.  It’s the kind of disease that makes you shudder just to hear about.  The statistics are not good, and yet…there is hope.   Debra had been told she only had a few weeks to live, but miraculously she is still with us here today. Now, we need another miracle: Debra needs to find a blood type O, live liver donor ASAP.
I know firsthand how fragile life can be.  My father died of cancer when I was four, and I was devastated by his loss.  I would have given anything for more time with him. Now that I am a parent myself, I am especially touched by Debra’s predicament.  I simply cannot imagine departing this world before I’ve had the chance to finish raising my son, and my heart goes out to Debra for facing that chasm with courage and resolve.
Times have changed since my father passed away. Technology has evolved so that we can save more lives than ever. And it’s not just medical technology wielded by surgeons that can save lives, but social media used by regular folks like you and me. We now have the power to broadcast Debra’s plea to thousands upon thousands of people around the globe. Maybe we are looking for a needle in a haystack, but with your help, we can make that haystack pretty huge.
Debra is filled with light.  She is one of those people who walks into a room and creates a warm glow with her smile and spirit. She is a devoted wife and mother, a loyal sister, a loving daughter, a beloved niece.  She has two beautiful sons and adores them more than anything in the world.
Debra’s close friend, Nicole, knows Debra better than most:
“She is truly a remarkable person. She has taught us all to follow our dreams and that anything is possible. Seventeen years ago, Debra was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Her fight against cancer was courageous – she faced adversity and pain with dignity, insurmountable strength and even laughter. After winning her battle, Deb picked up right where she left off, proving that anything is possible once she has set her mind to it. … Deb is so much greater than all of her accomplishments combined, of which there are so many. Above all, she is a true friend, a kindred spirit, a dedicated and loving mother whose beauty radiates from within and warms everyone around her. And now – my friend, my beautiful and lovely Debra is faced yet again with a battle that few of us can even begin to comprehend. And once again, she shows everyone who loves her – her family, her friends, her neighbors – how to live courageously, to love and to be loved.”
Please read Debra’s story here: and share it far and wide. It contains information if you are interested in being tested to be a donor. We just need one extraordinarily generous neshamah to be a match and willing to donate.  The first step in accomplishing this is to get the word out.  Get it out loud and strong and to the masses.
I have seen what our community can accomplish when one of our own sends out a distress call.  We came together for Ayelet Galena ( and the bone marrow drives done in her name have saved several lives.   We did that.  Because when one of our own is sick, we want to help.  
I have reached out to my network of remarkable Jewish women bloggers and all of my friends.  And now I am reaching out to you. 
I am hoping Debra’s plea will be answered.  I am confident that our community, in which we have always taken care of each other in times of need, will spread the word and find a donor. With your help and Hashem's blessing we can make a difference.
Q&A with Debra Karby
What would it mean to you to find a donor?
It would mean everything, of course. I know it is such a huge 'ask', but once I made the decision to move forward with being assessed for a transplant, I knew that this would be a step in the journey. It is my real last hope. And each day when I look at my two young boys, I remind myself that I need to be able to say at the end of the day, I tried everything. Having someone come forward as a donor makes them part of my journey and I, and my family, would be indebted to them for life. They are offering me the gift of hope and I can't ask for more than that.
How are you doing today?
Over the past 7 months I have tried to live one day at a time. How am I doing today? Well, I cried once, but I also laughed today. I felt achy in my body tonight, but my cousin rubbed my feet for an hour while I veged on the couch. I had over 100 emails come into my mailbox today, which made me feel both overwhelmed and loved. I feel scared and hopeful all at the same time.
How do you get through the dark moments?
I couldn't have made it this far in my journey without the endless support and love of my family, friends and community. My husband and kids, my sisters, parents - they have been by my side in all those dark moments. My extended community has dropped off dinner at my doorstep 5 out of 7 nights a week for the past 6 months. This week I saw my extended community go into action on Facebook, through the Canadian Jewish community, friends old and new -- camp friends, university and high school friends, neighbors, and friends of friends from around the globe -- connecting, sharing, praying. No one can take away the dark moments, but the power of community has definitely shed its light this week.
What would you do with just one more year of life?
If I were 24 and single, I might have brought out the bucket list and started to knock off as many things as I could. Sadly I have been told a couple times on this journey that I had 8 weeks, 4 weeks...doesn't leave a lot of time for planning! I'm 37 years old, with two sons, aged 7 and 4 1/2. My greatest fear would be leaving them at such a young age. The thought that they would hardly remember me breaks my heart. I've already tried skydiving once. I would spend as much time with the people that matter most.
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