TREASURE BEACH, St Elizabeth — The family of 16-year-old Hampton School student Nittia Deleon is to know on Wednesday when a surgery to remove a fast-growing tumour in her jaw will be done.
In recent weeks, the family has been working tirelessly to raise the roughly $2.6 million required for the medical procedure.
“Her doctor told us that the tumour is growing rapidly, and the larger it grows the more complicated it will be to have it removed,” Ava Cordeil, aunt of Nittia, told the Jamaica Observer, stressing that the surgery must be done in short order.
“If it is not removed, there is a strong possibility of it becoming cancerous. It can also spread to other areas, such as her soft tissue, which can be very dangerous, especially if it spreads to her nose, eyes, or brain,” said Cordeil.
She stated that in January, Nittia started complaining about a pain in a section of her jaw. It was dismissed as being wisdom tooth pains. However, when the pain persisted, she was taken to a doctor who at first thought she had a cyst, and ordered a biopsy.
The result, Cordeil said, which was received last month, revealed that Nittia had a tumour. In fact, she was diagnosed with ameloblastoma, a rare tumour that can cause severe pain, swelling, and can change the look on one’s face.
“The tumour, which has now taken over three-quarters of her jawbone, will cause her to lose six teeth when it is removed,” said Cordeil, adding that “a part of her hip will have to be used to reconstruct her face, and the teeth will be replaced with implants”.
The procedure to do the implants is expected to cost roughly $3 million.
Nittia’s family relies heavily on tourism. And, like many other residents of Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth, the family has been negatively impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The bar operated by her mother, Evelyn Cordeil, was the main source of revenue for the family.
But due to measures implemented by Government to curtail the spread of the infectious disease, the business has been closed for over two months, worsening the family’s financial situation.
Bars, however, were reopened last Tuesday, with a raft of guidelines, but that is not expected to improve the finances of the family, who is finding it difficult to cope with Nittia’s medical bills.
The student, who is currently on the Principal’s Honour Roll at Hampton School, and has received two consecutive gold pins for her outstanding academic achievements, is to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examination later this year.
“We are in dialogue with the school, and the guidance counsellor has been meeting with her to offer counselling and check on her mental health while she awaits the surgery,” said Cordeil.
Individuals willing to assist Nittia can make contributions at her gofundme.com page, Bring Back Kitty’s Smile.
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