Tiffany Caban Needs Our Help

What should have been day surgery for our amazing nanny on May 7th, has turned into a long-term battle for recovery. Thyroid Cancer complications lead to an unexpectedly rare and serious disorder called hypoparathyroidism.

Tiffany is a vibrant young woman who has dedicated her life to caring for children.  She is active, caring, loving, energetic, creative and an avid disc golf competitor. 

Please donate to help her with living and medical expenses so she can concentrate on her recovery. The attached article, which recently appeared in the newspaper, really says it all.  

President Kennedy once said, "One person can make a difference, and everyone should try."  Please help make a difference today.  
With sincere gratitude for your consideration!

Telagram & Gazette article by Ellie Oleson:

Pretty and fit Tiffany "Tiff" Caban of Spencer, a professional nanny for two small children, avid disc golf player and 1998 graduate of South High School in Worcester, was living the good life in April, a month after turning 34. Then her doctor found a small lump on her throat during her annual physical.

Her sister, Jodie Woodbury of Spencer, said Ms. Caban was referred to endocrinologist Dr. Abdulkadir Omer, who said there was only a 5 percent chance the lump was cancer. Tiffany was not a smoker and had no other risk factors for developing the disease, but a biopsy showed the lump was malignant.

"As the weeks went by, it almost looked like Tiffany had an Adam's apple, the lump grew so large," Ms. Woodbury said.

On May 7, Ms. Caban had her thyroid gland removed, along with two of four parathyroid glands. The thyroid gland produces hormones that control metabolism, weight, mood and other body functions. Parathyroid glands release a hormone that regulates calcium and phosphorus in the blood and bones.

Rare and painful complications have kept her in a hospital or rehabilitation center ever since.

"About 18 hours after her surgery, Tiffany had her first episode of tetany, a kind of muscle seizure that caused all her muscles to tighten. Her hands and jaw, even her eye muscles would clench and stay that way for hours," Ms. Woodbury said.

Imagine an intense Charlie horse lasting for hours in nearly every muscle in your body.

Doctors diagnosed Ms. Caban with a very rare disorder called hypoparathyroidism, not to be confused with the more common hypothyroidism. Her remaining two parathyroid glands apparently were not functioning, leaving her with low blood calcium, which can cause intensely painful and prolonged muscle cramps and spasms.

Ms. Caban suffered through 14 of these agonizing, whole-body episodes over the next six weeks, but with careful monitoring of the calcium levels in her body, she has been seizure-free for several weeks.

"Her muscles are fatigued from so much trauma, but she's fighting through it. Thanks to disc golf, she was in great shape when all this started, which probably helped," Ms. Woodbury said.

Ms. Caban began her battle at UMass Memorial Medical Center — Memorial Campus in Worcester, where she had her surgery, and then spent a painful month as doctors tried to balance her calcium and other essential minerals. Then came four weeks at the hospital's University Campus, interspersed with three unsuccessful trips to Fairlawn Rehabilitation Hospital, where episodes of tetany kept leading to emergency ambulance trips back to the University Campus.

Finally, she was transported to Vibra Hospital of Western Massachusetts — Central Campus in Leicester, and then to The Meadows Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center next door, where she continues her recovery.

"This has been a life-changing experience. She loves being a nanny. This is the third family she has served as a nanny for. The kids grow up, and she moves on. She misses the girls. Videos of them and cards they make have cheered her up so much. I can't imagine her being anything else but a nanny," Ms. Woodbury said.

To learn more about her sister's rare disorder, Ms. Woodbury attended a regional meeting of the Hypoparathyroidism Association Inc., a branch of the National Organization for Rare Disorders, in Boston on July 18. There, at an educational meeting sponsored by NPS Pharmaceuticals, the family was able to talk to more than a dozen fellow caregivers and patients. The next meeting is in Houston this month.

"Other patients said it was a year before there was any normalcy at all. We learned the signs of an impending seizure can be tingling in the hands and feet or around the mouth when calcium is low," Ms. Woodbury said.

Unfortunately, the balance of calcium, magnesium and potassium must be carefully monitored and maintained, or patients continue to suffer.

Meanwhile, Ms. Caban's original cancer diagnosis still hangs over the family, though, "as far as we know, the cancer is gone," Ms. Woodbury said.

She said tests will determine if her sister needs radioactive iodine therapy to ensure that all cancer cells were removed along with her thyroid.

Ms. Caban is not alone in her battle. Spending hours at her bedside have been her sister and her husband, Patrick Woodbury, and three children; brother Tim Caban of Oxford and his wife, Kristen, and son; father Mack Caban of New Bedford; mother Debra Caban of Worcester; and grandparents Joan and Wallace Poisson of New Bedford.

"She's had support from our family and from her friends. The guys on Tiffany's disc golf team have been amazing," Ms. Woodbury said.

Fellow Team Webster Fish & Game members of the New England Frisbee Association disc golf team, led by team captain Aaron Kaczowka and fellow tournament directors Josh St. Dennis and John Hollows, held a two-day fundraiser for Ms. Caban in Webster in July at the Webster Fish & Game Club and Disc Golf Course.

The highlight of the event was Ms. Caban's first outing from the hospital since her surgery.

"She did great! I brought her in a wheelchair. She was out from 11:30 to 7. She was really tired the next day, but it was worth it!"

Mr. Kaczowka said the goal was to raise $5,000 to help "Tiff" with medical and living expenses not covered by insurance. The group raised $6,000.

"We also wanted to raise awareness and to let Tiff know she has a family in her team that's there for her. Disc golfers are special, caring people who stick together. They are what make disc golf great. It was a more productive and fun time than we had imagined. We had her friends down and live music. It was the happiest I've seen her in a long time."
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