Tracey and David’s little girl Ruby was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when she was just two years old. What her parents thought at first was a middle ear infection turned out to be a tumour.
“We were absolutely devastated. Just the thought that our child had cancer was beyond belief.” Ruby’s mum, Tracey
Despite the shock of the diagnosis, Ruby’s tumour was believed to be low-risk, and was surgically removed without the need for further treatment. However a few months later, doctors found another tumour in Ruby’s lymph nodes between her kidney and spine. This time, it was growing fast and needed immediate and aggressive treatment.
At only two years of age, this is some of what little Ruby had to endure for nearly two years in hospital until she was well enough to go home.
Ruby had six rounds of intense chemotherapy and lost her hair. During her second round of chemotherapy Ruby’s stem cells were harvested for a transplant which was done through a cannula inserted in her neck.
After chemotherapy, Ruby then had more surgery to remove any residual tumour.
Then, after recovering from surgery, Ruby was in an isolation room for eight weeks before a stem cell transplant.
During treatment, Ruby became critically ill and she collapsed one morning due to an infection. Her bowels had shut down and doctors needed to drain her stomach. Little Ruby slowly recovered over the next two to three weeks, but muscle wastage made it difficult for her to start walking again.
Once she had recovered from her stem cell transplant, Ruby had 20 rounds of radiation and then, she underwent a trial treatment protocol – immunotherapy for six months.
It is this immuno-therapy treatment that her parents believe is keeping Ruby cancer-free. This is the therapy that is only possible because of research programs funded by the Children’s Hospital Foundation.
“We have endured nearly two years of pain, watching our child go through extremely difficult treatment. We nearly lost her at one stage, in my arms. But we got through it; we got through it as a family. I look at her every day and I can’t believe what she went through. She’s a gorgeous little girl … and we’re so thankful; we’ll always be grateful.” Ruby’s mum, Tracey
Research is vital to improve treatments for little kids like Ruby, and prevent children dying from neuroblastoma and other cancers. The truth is that despite the tremendous progress we’ve made, we are still losing too many children to these terrible diseases. And even those who survive must endure such aggressive treatments needed to save their lives.
Our children deserve to be happy and healthy, and grow up and make a lifetime of memories.