Her body shows the effects of a three year battle with cancer.
Her face is swollen because of the steroids which help her body heal and her hair is still growing back after a recent surgery to alleviate pressure on her brain due to a new tumor.
But it is hard to see Debbie Jobe without taking notice of her smile.
“No matter what she has been through or how much pain she is in, she always has a smile on her face that brightens the room,” said Rev. Larry Hatfield, pastor at Grand Assembly of God Church in Chickasha.
Since Christmas Eve of 2002, Jobe’s medical history has seemed to be a living testament to Murphy’s Law.
“There have been three times through all of this, where, but for the grace of God and prayer, she would be dead,” said Debbie’s husband Rick Jobe.
But through it all, her faith in God and her belief He can and will heal her of this disease has kept the mother of three stronger than anyone could imagine.
Shortly before Christmas in 2002 Jobe said she had a feeling that something was very wrong.
“I feel like God told me to check myself out,” Jobe said. “He warned me. So I checked it out.”
The self examination led to the discovery of a lump in her breast. She soon felt the lump grow and decided a trip to the doctor was in order.
“That was one ugly Christmas Eve,” Rick said. “We sat there in that waiting room in Southern Plains (Medical Clinic) after everyone else had gone home.”
When Dr. Virginia Haar finally came out she told the family what she feared, but more tests were needed to be certain of the diagnosis. Dr. Michell Cohn called on the day after Christmas to break the bad news and begin planning treatment options.
After that, Rick said each step has been one worst case scenario after another.
First the lumpectomy - which followed surgery on both of her feet to treat the Rheumatoid Arthritis she has had since she was 25 - left Debbie with a staff infection that took almost a year to clear up. She did well on chemotherapy with few side-effects other than fatigue.
However, it wasn’t long before the cancer had spread to her sternum and left femur.
The radiation treatments - everyday for nine weeks - which tried to stop the spread of the cancer left her with burns which kept her off her feet for weeks. After she recovered from all of the recurrences and treatments, Debbie got the worst news yet.
On Feb. 1 of this year, Rick was talking to Debbie on the phone.
He noticed a problem in her speech and asked her if she was feeling all right. She had been fine earlier in the day, but by that evening, she was unable to walk or talk and had tremendous pain in her head.
Rick rushed her to see her doctor who told them the cancer had spread again, this time to her brain. They found a tumor which doctors determined was inoperable. They had to do surgery to put a shunt in her head to allow fluid to drain and alleviate pressure on her brain.
Soon after the shunt was installed, Debbie fell and hit her head causing a lot of bleeding and pain and scaring everyone involved.
“It was after that that I talked to Greg (Elliott),” Rick said. “I told him I didn’t know if it could get any worse.”
Elliott and his cousin Tim own and operate Standley’s Office Supply in Chickasha.
The two have been life-long friends of Rick’s and the three have worked together for more than 25 years.
“When I started at Standley’s, there were eight employees and four of them were named Elliott,” Rick said. Don Elliott, Greg’s father had been a major influence on Rick’s life through church.
He worked with a boys’ organization called Royal Rangers. Rick was the first Gold Medal of Achievement winner under Don’s guidance.
Debbie also worked at Standley’s for 16 years. The two families are obviously closely connected and the news of Debbie suffering didn’t sit well with the Elliotts.
In the midst of Debbie’s latest ordeal and after Rick’s conversation with Greg Elliott, the Chickasha Chamber of Commerce held its annual banquet.
This seemingly unrelated incident has become a bright spot in an otherwise very dark time. Greg Elliott was the outgoing Chamber of Commerce President and was very involved in the banquet.
That night during the silent auction, a spur of the moment idea led him to take advantage of an opportunity.
Standley’s bid on an all-inclusive trip to Jamaica and they won. But Greg and Tim didn’t have to fight over which cousin would get to take the trip.
“Rick had just talked to me about needing some time to spend with Debbie because things were getting bad,” Greg said. “They wanted to take some trips, but I know how expensive her treatments are. So I just thought it was a chance to do something to help.”
The next Monday morning Greg called Rick on his way to work and asked him to stop by his office before starting his day.
When he got to Greg’s office he sat down, not knowing why he had been summoned into the office.
“Greg asked me how Deb was doing and I said she was doing better and able to get around a little bit,” Rick said. “Then he asked me if she was up to taking a trip.”
Rick said when he found out what his friend and employer had done, he didn’t know what to say.
“They have done a lot to take care of their employees over the years,” Rick said. “I just couldn’t believe they had done this.”
When Rick called Debbie and told her about the trip, she was speechless.
“It was just so nice of them to do this for us,” Debbie said. “ With all the gloom and doom, to have something to take your mind off of everything that’s going on helps so much.”
Since then, Debbie has been through even more hard times.
She has been undergoing treatment with the cyberknife at St. Anthony’s Hospital. This is a high powered, targeted radiation treatment which can shrink and destroy inoperable tumors. The life-saving treatment almost killed her, though.
Because of the location of the new tumor, the procedure caused Debbie to have a stroke. She was left without speech and unable to move for three days.
“They sent me home to die,” Debbie said. But a trip to the Grady Memorial Hospital Emergency Room led to a course of medications which helped keep her alive.
She has begun regaining her strength and is mobile again. She has completed all of the cyberknife treatments.
“I just want to be strong enough to enjoy this trip,” Debbie said.
The couple went back to the doctor Thursday, March 23 to find out if the cyberknife treatments had been successful.
Debbie truly believes God will heal her. The trip to the doctor Thursday gave her the first medical evidence in some time that she could be right.
“The tumor was totally gone,” Rick said. “There is a minute trace of where it was. But the area where it was pushing on her brain stem is back to normal.”
Doctors had hoped for the best. But this news was beyond their expectations.
“The doctor was fairly amazed about it,” Rick said. “We shared that our church had been praying desperately for this and he said that always helps. The grace of God is good.”
For now, Debbie will keep trying to win the fight against cancer. She will also keep helping the new patients get accustomed to their fight with this disease.
She will continue to believe God will heal her.
Until then, she will smile because she can.
Her body shows the effects of a three year battle with cancer.