U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rose Gudex
OVERCOMING OBSTACLES: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacquelyn Combs has not let her health issues keep her from her military service.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacquelyn Combs has overcome more challenges in her 29 years of life than most people her age. And for nearly 10 years, she has enthusiastically served her country. Even with chronic pain, mobile tumors, and a pregnancy that nullified any chance of radiation treatment, backing out or giving up was never an option for Combs. As she says, it’s either all or nothing.
Combs, whose father served in the Army, at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. She said she joined the military after graduating from school because she sought additional structure in her life as well as guidance on responsibility and being an adult. She also planned to extend her education.
In 2010, Combs was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease – an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Crohn’s Disease can be painful and debilitating, and can sometimes lead to life-threatening complications. But with treatment, many people with the disease are able to function well, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website.
A few years after being diagnosed, she started getting pains in her stomach. She thought the pains were stress-related and temporary. But the pains didn’t go away. Doctors found a mass which, after it was biopsied, was determined to be desmoid fibromatosis, a soft tissue cancer.
“They’re tumors that tend to jump in your body and shut things down,” Combs explained. “Some of my organs had started failing and my hair was falling out. In January 2015, I had surgery. Two weeks later, I went back for my follow-up and I found out I was pregnant — which means I couldn’t do the radiation and chemotherapy treatment.”
In addition to getting family support, Combs said her military leadership was very supportive throughout her ordeal.
The medical challenges she faced did not diminish her resolve to serve in the military. Combs explained, “It wasn’t a choice as far as stopping (her work in the military), because when you sign your name to a piece of paper like that, it’s not an option. My personality is either all or nothing. If I set my mind to something, I’m going for it.”
And she’s still going for it. Combs works for the 21st Mission Support Group, in the front office as a personnel specialist, at Peterson Air Force Base.
We wish Staff Sgt. Combs well, and we thank her for her service … and for her inspiration!