- Jobelle Ponta-oy, a stage 4 cancer amputee talks about her story of life and its struggles
- She trusts that God always has a plan and her faith keeps her strong
- She maintains strong relationships with people who lift her up
- Being a part of Girl Power Talk reminds her to continue on; everything has a purpose.
- In Jobelle’s words, ‘Faith it until you make it’.
“The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it.” – C.C. Scott
Who is Jobelle?
Jobelle Ponta-oy is a 23-year-old girl from the Philippines with a fiery spirit and bright energy. She is also a stage 4 cancer amputee who lives life to her heart’s content daily and believes that even broken things shine if you color them well.
Being one of Girl Power Talk’s most precious team members, Jobelle has a passion for faith, photography, and, of course, Taylor Swift (Duh!). She is resilient and hopeful, and believes that sharing her story will give others a ray of hope to continue on life’s journey. She hopes her journey shows that nothing is a limitation. She has perseverance in patience, with the mindset that everything will be okay. She believes that she can punch through everything that’s thrown at her with God by her side, because everything is temporary. In her words, the firmer your faith, the easier it is to understand how and why some things don’t go your way; God always has a plan.
How it All Started?
As a mischievous kid, Jobelle enjoyed running and jumping with her friends all around school. While playing a game of tag once, she had her first fall in a canal, and her knee froze up. She was not able to bend or use her leg normally after that. Around a year later, in fourth grade, Jobelle slipped due to a typhoon. Her parents urged her to try some physiotherapy. When she went to the doctors, she found out that one of her legs was shorter than the other. The solution was having one shoe made thicker than the other and some experimentation with herbal medication. Later on, she slipped again and fell into a fish pond, jumped around her house and slipped on debris, and tripped because of her shoes in school. All of these injured her same right knee.
Around seventh grade, Jobelle had several CT scans, x-rays, and ultrasounds to be able to finally pinpoint the root cause of her worsening swollen knee. Through the scans, she described what she had seen as “bones that were supposed to look smooth and shiny, but looked like they were eaten by rats,” but she was yet to receive a proper diagnosis.
In 2013, she was given two options: an operation or another try at physiotherapy. With the trauma she had associated with her experiences at physiotherapy, she opted for an operation. The result was her finding out that she had a meniscal cyst caused by a tear within the meniscus cartilage. She was left with a 14-inch scar on her knee. Three weeks after her operation, she continued to receive bone developmental injections and physiotherapy sessions.
Around tenth grade, Jobelle had joined her grandfather for some swimming lessons and noticed a lump growing on her knee. At the time, she decided to ignore it and remain her cheerful, childish self. Going back to school and putting pressure on her knee every day only made it grow, and she shared her observations with her mother. In 2016, Jobelle was diagnosed with stage 1-2 sarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer. She took a two-month temporary leave from school and underwent 33 radiotherapy sessions for the malignant spindle cell tumor, which left her with third-degree burns.
A year later, Jobelle entered a camera giveaway that was a competition for 10 people all over Asia. She won, and that kickstarted her photography journey and career. Her love for art led her to start a small business selling keychains when she was in the twelfth grade. She believes seeing someone buy a product of your hard work is extremely fulfilling. Through the beginning of college, she also did photo shoots for weddings and events, and even accepted other lazy students’ work to grow her savings.
In 2019, the first semester of college, Jobelle moved on to wearing a back brace and holding onto crutches. Because of her legs, she developed lower back scoliosis, which caused her lower back pain. During one of her classes, her knee bumped into the top of the table. When she took an x-ray, it showed that the patella of her knee was diminished, and this injury led her to undergo another operation.
She found out that her tumor had continued to grow considerably, and she was then diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and went through chemotherapy. She was, again, offered two options: undergo another operation where the two bones would be attached and she would not be able to bend her knee ever again or amputate the leg and hope that the cancer didn’t spread. In the year 2020, at the age of 21, Jobelle became a stage 3 cancer amputee.
After undergoing 6 chemotherapy treatments and doing her scans every 3–6 months out of precaution, Jobelle was declared a stage 4 cancer amputee. She was again offered two options: IV chemotherapy or oral chemotherapy. Jobelle opted for the oral chemotherapy as, from her experience, the IV was draining; it dulled down her energy and the person that she was. In the midst of the pandemic, Jobelle stopped her small business temporarily as it was taking a toll on her mental health and she needed to be mentally strong to fight her physical battles. She felt as though she had no sense of purpose.
Overcoming Her Challenges
Jobelle has wonderful relationships with her family and friends, despite her physical difficulties. She believes that she is strong because of the strong mother who raised her. She’s proud to have been raised in an environment where she still feels loved and has a sense of belonging. Practically, you would think that people with disabilities would be discriminated against in society, specifically at school. Jobelle loved school! People didn’t see her as less or treat her disability as a hindrance to reaching her goals. Her friends motivated her and were continuously supportive. There was, of course, the occasional family member who would spew negative comments that affected Jobelle, but she learned how to stand up for herself with time. She knew that if she didn’t go through her struggles, she would not be the person they knew standing in front of them today. She is proud of herself.
One random day in July 2022, Jobelle opened her Instagram to see a post by Girl Power Talk titled “Youth of The Future Competition”. On July 29th, she won 1st place in the Graphic Designing Competition. This marked the beginning of her journey with Girl Power Talk.
She was eager to be a part of their team in any way she could since she saw the sponsored competition post. She was even more excited when she realized Girl Power Talk hired members from all over the world. She had her first round interview scheduled on July 30th and two weeks later she was officially part of our ever-growing team.
With the little things, God will give you the way. Jobelle believes that Girl Power Talk was brought to her for a reason in a time of need. After sharing some of her designs and her photography portfolio with her new friends at Girl Power Talk, she was so happy. She could only describe the feeling as “wanting to teleport and celebrate together in person”.
In her words, even though life gets tough, having the kind of people that are part of the Girl Power Talk team to surround herself with, reminds her to continue on with life despite her struggles because at the end of the day, everything has a purpose. Working at Girl Power Talk, developing her skills, while also contributing to a cause she feels deeply for has given Jobelle both a purpose and hope.
Where Jobelle Is Now
It has been a year since her oral chemotherapy sessions. When you, as a patient, are trying to survive, so is the cancer in your body. Jobelle recently discovered that her cancer cells adjusted to her oral chemotherapy and immune system. She is waiting on other news about her health, but right now, her only option seems to be IV chemotherapy, which Jobelle is not ready to take. She has been fighting all her life, and she does not want to fight in a hospital. She believes her mental health needs to be in a comfortable position because the opposite can hurt you if not the cancer.
Since she has a rare type of cancer, it is difficult to find the technical trials with a higher success rate and the right treatments. Jobelle wants to live life with no regrets and genuine happiness, and we know the decisions she takes will follow her beliefs.
Her mantra would be to ‘faith it until you make it’. Her own rendition of ‘fake it until you make it’, derived from her faith in God. She wants everyone reading this to know that you should never live life with regrets. If you have the opportunity to do something, whether it be something silly or not, do it if your heart speaks for it! Do it because you will never know when the opportunity will slip away, do things you truly want to do because you don’t know when it will be the last time. Be with the people you love and pave your way to your dreams.
This is your story; direct it the way you want to and do it well.
In Jobelle’s words, “Faith it until you make it”. Reading this story of fight and inspiration will remind you that every struggle has a lesson. You will have to face many challenges in life, face them head first and always come out stronger.