UCF professor recovering from brain surgery
Published: Sunday, September 16, 2012
Updated: Sunday, September 16, 2012 15:09
When Debora Cordeiro started this semester teaching Portuguese language and literature, she thought her past was behind her. But after week one she was hospitalized again. After a 15-hour brain operation on Sept. 5, the modern languages professor, UCF graduate and worldwide humanitarian is recovering at Florida Hospital, but she is not quite in the clear just yet.
In January of this year, Cordeiro knew something wasn’t right.
“The doctors told her, ‘Take something for the pain. It’s nothing,’” Leyla Puentes, a former Latin American theatre student of Cordeiro’s, who has kept in touch with her and her family during the past couple of years, said.
Knowing that it was indeed something, Cordeiro went home to see her family in Brazil and they took her to the hospital where she was treated that week for a large tumor on her brain.
“The first operation was successful, but the brain tumor came back, with vengeance,” Hakan Ozoglu, director of the Middle Eastern studies minor, said of Cordeiro’s condition.
Cordeiro and her loved ones are waiting for the results of previous tests to see if it is safe to treat her with more radiation and chemotherapy. Because the tumor is located in a sensitive area of her brain that would inflict damage if touched, they were not able to remove it entirely.
As bills from weeks in the Intensive Care Unit piled up, colleagues and friends of Cordeiro’s started a fundraiser to help her family through her recovery. Though no one knows what the final cost will be, the UCF community and people throughout the world whose lives she’s touched are helping by visiting gofundme.com/helpdeb. The goal for the fundraiser is $100,000. So far, the fund has collected more than $5,000 since its creation on Sept. 6.
“If anyone had a problem they would go see [Cordeiro],” Ozoglu said.
He said that oftentimes, he would go to her office and find it loaded with students, even after hours.
As a student, Puentes experienced Cordeiro’s passion for teaching.
“She listened to her students and made you feel like what you said was important.”
Cordeiro’s kindness extended well beyond the walls of her classroom; it took her out of the country.
During her free summer sessions, Cordeiro traveled the world. Many would assume she was vacationing, but what she told very few was that her weeks away from home were spent volunteering in refugee camps, helping to educate and build brighter futures for underprivileged children, pushing herself to the limit to help others.
Ozoglu said that Cordeiro gives more than her time to others.
“[Cordeiro] grows her hair … not to look good, but to donate.”
He said that in a time when she has given all she can to others, it is important now that the university community contributes what it can to help “one of our own.”
Cordeiro’s sister, Elaine Cordeiro said that even as a child, Debora was generous and loving.
“We grew up in Brazil, and my mother went through some hard times and Debora used to worry, she had to make sure my mother was fine. She was always very caring,” Elaine said. “Even if she doesn’t know you, and she knows you are going through a rough time … she would always do something nice, send a little letter, send a little gift. That’s how she has always been.”
Puentes said she’d like to see Cordeiro get support in her time of need.
“She’s the kind of person that needs to be alive because she will continue helping people … losing her would be terrible. She’s been there for others so this is our time to be there for her.”