Celebrating Five Years Cancer Free

“Ruby was diagnosed the day before her 2nd birthday” recalls Bec, Ruby’s mother “At first we thought she had a cold.”

“We went to the GP. He listened to Ruby’s chest and he couldn’t hear air in her lungs so we went to the hospital. For five weeks she was treated for pneumonia. There was a huge dark patch over her lung on the X-ray, it seemed too big to be anything other than pneumonia. But as the weeks passed and her condition didn’t improve, they ordered a CT scan.”

The CT showed that the dark shadow on Ruby’s chest was a tumour "the size of a footy".

“She got worse, fast and was in ICU. Her initial diagnosis was Thymoma, a rare cancer known only to occur in adults. It had never been seen in a child so they didn’t know how to treat it.”

“We were told she only had a 40% chance of making it through and that if she did, the cancer would come back.”

“They began treating her with chemotherapy. She was later re-diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma with an 80% plus chance of survival.”

Ruby started The Beaded Journey from her earliest days in hospital; tracking each procedure and surgery in a journal, each event or milestone represented by one precious bead on a cord that would grow longer than Bec ever expected.

“My beads make me feel happy because I remember all the times I was in hospital and getting the beads” says Ruby.

“Ruby looked forward to doing her beads every time we went to hospital. She loved adding to it. It’s so crazy at that time to remember everything; it was really good to have a little diary, to record every little procedure so we could put the beads in order. Now she brings them to Show and Tell at school, explaining to other students what each bead means.”

Since the age of two Ruby had over 217 finger pricks, 15 blood transfusions, 4 operations, six months of intensive chemotherapy and 22 lumbar punctures.

As Ruby’s results improved, she was moved onto a two and a half year maintenance program consisting of in-home chemotherapy treatment, frequent blood tests and X-rays.

In October 2016, a momentous day arrived. Ruby reached her biggest milestone yet: five years cancer-free.  

“It essentially means she’s cured. She needs yearly check-ups, but right now she is cancer-free” says Bec.

See Ruby's Beaded Journey represented as an infographic.

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Ruby in 2013 and 2016