Compassionate. Caring. Devoted. Angel on Earth. These accolades have all been made about Debbie Lubkeman, RN, ONS—a recipient of the Campbell County Health Legend Award for 2016. For those who don't know, CCH defined a Legend as, "those people who have left a permanent impression on our minds because of their deeds and actions. Ongoing demonstration of hard work, compassion, and a reputation for greatness make someone a legend."
"Nurses are GREAT examples of caring and compassionate people, and I'm proud to be a nurse," says Deb, "I'm also proud to work for Campbell County Health at the Cancer Center."
Deb was familiar with the Heptner Cancer Center before she worked there. In 1987, Deb's son Tyler, 11, who was a healthy young man who loved motocross, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. In 1989, Tyler lost his fight with the disease. Deb's sister, Elaine, also passed away from lung cancer in 2009. Deb says that everyone has been touched by cancer somehow, but some turn their experience into something that helps others—for Deb, it was to become a nurse.
"I met all these wonderful nurses when my son was diagnosed and going through treatment. We spent so much time together that they became part of my family," says Deb. Many of the nurses, who helped Tyler and the Lubkeman family, also encouraged Deb to become a nurse.
Deb graduated from Nursing School at Gillette College in 2003, and by June she was working at CCH – starting in the
Medical/Surgical Unit and working for a bit in
Hospice. Now she is the Clinical Care Supervisor for
Medical Oncology in the Cancer Center. As a Clinical Care Supervisor, Deb supervises the Cancer Center's nursing staff of 12 wonderful nurses and meets with patients and their families to discuss the disease and educate them on treatments, or just find out how they are holding up.
"I think that my experience with cancer helps me connect with patients; I've been in their shoes. I know their struggles, and the needs that they are facing. A cancer diagnosis affects the entire family—they all need support," says Deb. "Some of my best days are seeing patients who we have helped come back a year later and be living a good, full life."
In her Legend Nomination form, Cancer Center director Leigh Worsley, wrote: "Deb goes above and beyond for our patients (and their families) every day! She has a genuinely kind heart and it shows in every interaction she has with them. She spends countless hours working on behalf of the patient with insurance companies, referring physicians, etc. She will do anything to ensure that the patients and their families have one less thing to worry about… Deb is not afraid to have difficult conversations, or implement an unpopular change if it improves patient care or organizational effectiveness. We are blessed to have her compassion and smile on our team."
In March, Deb was recognized in a Thanks for working here Thursday post on Facebook—and the response from patients was pretty incredible, with more than 30 comments, 18 shares and 160 "likes". Here is a taste of what patients said about their experience with Deb:
- Donna Braswell Hottell: You rock, Deb. When I found out my breast cancer came back, you called me at 7 pm to see how I was, when I was traveling back from Denver you called Dr. Mills and had an RX waiting for me when I arrived back in Gillette. That is called going above and beyond for people.
- Becky Merchen: I will never forget the care I received after my back fusion. Also you were so good to my Momma, Patti Knotts, when she came for her chemo treatments. You are a treasure.
- Leslie Burr Petersen: It is an honor to know such a caring, devoted nurse and friend. You are always there for us! You are our angel here on earth! You are the best!
- Dana Todd Urman: Debbie, I will never forget the love and compassion you showed my mama...thank you!
- Nita Fitzgerald VanVlerah: You were an angel for Jeff and my family. I leaned so hard on you and you held me up.
"The people I have helped are now part of my family, and I am part of theirs," says Deb.
Deb not only gives her time to her patients, she also gives it to her community. She is an active member of the Campbell County Healthcare Foundation
Cancer Care Committee, which helps support local cancer patients undergoing treatments with financial aid. She's been with the committee since it formed in 2013—the committee has granted more than $110K since its inception. Deb is a member of the CCH Ethics Committee, and is instrumental in the success of the Cancer Center's annual Breast Cancer Awareness Outreach in the community every year at a local shopping area. She's also an active member in her church,
Church at the Barn.
Nurse is simply one title Deb carries; she's also a wife to her "honey" Butch (of nearly 36 years), a very proud mother to Tim and his wife, Katie and three wonderful grandchildren. When she's not at work, Deb loves to ride her Harley with Butch, and is actively involved with her three grandchildren—Skyler, Jadyn, and Kyle—who keep her busy with basketball, choir, rodeo and soccer events.
Deb, it is an honor to know such a caring, and devoted nurse—we are blessed to have your compassion on our team. You have left a permanent impression in this organization and in our community. Congratulations.