FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – A former Broward Sheriff’s Deputy is battling a rare blood cancer and is asking for the community’s help to fight the disease.
The deputy — Flora Vouglitois– spent 16 years as a detention deputy with BSO. She says her last few months on the job were spent in crippling pain — as doctors tried to figure out what was making her sick.
Vouglitois, 42, said two years ago she started noticing she could only eat small amounts of food and quickly became nauseous with uncontrollable vomiting.
For months, she said doctors could not determine what was wrong with her.
Then, doctors saw that her white blood cell count was three times the normal limit.
Doctors determined she had Aggressive Systemic Mastocytosis — a blood disease that attacked her bones and organs.
“It’s moving through my whole body,” Vouglitois told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “I can be aching in my feet one minute. then it goes to my knees.”
Vouglitois said the illness caused an enlarged spleen, significant weight loss and other health issues. She is trying to remain positive focusing on the support of her three children, husband, other family and friends.
“At first I was like why me?” she admitted. “And sometimes I sit back and say is this really happening to me? But I feel I can be a testimony to other people.”
Kevin Vouglitois remembers days when his wife was so ill that she could barely get out of bed yet continued going to work.
“She is the strongest woman I’ve ever met,” Kevin said. “She went to work when most people would have been lying in bed.”
Flora Vouglitois says her situation is dire. She is on a regimen of drugs, her benefits run out next month and she owes tens of thousands in medical bills.
She has set up a website to raise $100-thousand dollars to pay for a trip to a Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, a facility that specializes in the treatment of this cancer.
Vouglitois says she some of the money she raises will be used to pay for an expensive bone marrow transplant to get rid of the disease once and for all.
She’s endured several rounds of chemotherapy and half a dozen hospital visits. But she and her husband promise to fight on.
“I’m here for her,” Kevin said. “Whatever we have to do to get her where she needs to be. And she’ll make it because she wants to make it.”
Flora says for the sake of her family she will beat the disease.
“I have to,” she said. “I don’t have any other choice but to.”
If you’d like donate go to cbsmiami.com and look for our neighbors 4 neighbors section.