Ready to fly….

Hi! I am Ruby. I was supposed to come to this website four years ago when I was first diagnosed. But at that time, I was overwhelmed with my diagnosis and didn’t want to talk to anyone or see anything related to cancer. Today, I found this card that my social worker gave me back in 2009 and decided to share my story.

I was diagnosed with a stage 3 rhabdomyosarcoma a few days before my 15th birthday. At that time, I didn’t really understand what was going on, I just knew that I had to get treatment for 10 months and I couldn’t go to school during that period. It turned out it was so much more than I expected: 3 cycles of chemo and 28 rounds of radiation, losing hair, having virtually no friends to talk to ( They just didn’t understand). Luckily, I have two very caring parents and family members, I kept fighting. Eventually when the chemo ended after 1 year, instead of 10 months ( bc I was too weak to have any more chemo some time so they had to delay the chemo), I was actually reluctant of going to school, because I didn’t have any hair. (And my school is very straight about not having hat/cap on once we enter the school building) After all the worrying about going to school with hair disappeared after I learned that I had to wait until the Spring semester to return to school anyway. So I continued with Home Schooling in the meantime. Because I no longer had a suppressed immune system, I was allowed to have anything I want ( I love eating!). So I ate lots of SUSHI (my favorite), fried things, steak! (second favorite) in that period and thinking that it’s all over.

So I started going back to school as a junior in Spring, with short hair (guy’s hair). My old friends were supportive in school. They waited for me after class, walked with me to the train station, told me jokes that I still remember today. Life was starting to get better. One month later, I was told that I had a relapse. At that time, I was really upset; “I had done what I was told to do, I did nothing wrong, I didn’t kill anyone or even punch anyone?! Why do I have to suffer?” I was really fearful at that time because anyone who has gone though chemo knows how painful that is. Desperate for a new normal life, and, sort of, because of my superstition, I switched to another hospital. I knew I made a right decision when I met my doctor there. He gave me many treatment plans and explained to me carefully. This time, the chemo was less severe and my hair didn’t fall off. ( I was really grateful for that) So I continued this less painful treatment along with 20 or so radiation while I returned to Home Schooling. All the scans showed good progress and it was time for High School graduation. My doctor and I were discussing check-ups in a hospital near my College because it was time for the chemo to finish up. I was really excited for college, the classmates I met in the student meeting were friendly, the college offered classes I love taking. At the same time, I was also preparing for my road test and I was leaving for my trip that Make-A-Wish has arranged for me. That summer was full of excitement and hope. Then, one day ( about two weeks before my departure, I found a bump on my shoulder bone, and it turned out to be another relapse. My doctor quickly ordered another round of radiation and, luckily, it was just that one tumor. So I left for my trip after the radiation, still happy and excited.

As I was traveling, however, I noticed there’s a little bump on my neck, so I contacted my doctor, and he said it’s better for me to continue enjoying my trip than returning immediately ( I know he made a good decision for me because that trip was amazing!)So by the time, I returned that bump grew into the size of a mango. I hope a radiation could take of it, like last time. But I wasn’t lucky this time, cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body, neck, lymph nodes, rib …etc. ( I don’t really know the detail, I just know it’s pretty bad) So I immediately went through intense chemotherapy and postponed college.

Now, I am still continuing chemo and hoping that it’d end soon because if I can’t go to school this fall, I’d have to reapply to college. One thing that’s different is that I no longer blame anyone or anything for this — I know if I want to get better, I have to work for it: eat less meat and exercise more. I used to be and still sometimes am a passive and pessimistic person. If you are like me, Here’s a trick for you: Just don’t think about the bad things at all, that way you will never get depressed. Whenever a gloomy thing comes across your mind, Just think about the good things. Believe you can win and you will win. Believe there’s a future ahead of you. Believe someday you will be freed and able to fly away from these nightmares. Meanwhile, prepare yourselves to fly! Try to be optimistic!

If you’d like to talk, feel free to email me at

Good luck to all of you! Keep fighting!

May 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Coping with Cancer

  • Leah Shearer

    Hi Ruby,

    Girl, you are what TLC is all about! I love your attitude…it’s not easy but attitude is what we CAN control. These tremendous challenges and scary setbacks are what they are- but if you learn to look for the positive than you can tackle them.
    That is what I believe firmly– and it helps how you face your journey as well.

    Thank you for getting in touch with me and I thank you for including your email.

    I would love to involve you in our video chats on Google Plus sometime…so that you can have the chance to talk to other teens who you might have a lot in common with.

    So awesome to hear from you and keep reaching out and keep looking for the sunshine.

    Leah Shearer
    TLC Program Coordinator
    Rochester, NY

    • Ruby

      Hi Leah,

      Thank you for reading my story! Sure you can definitely include me in your video chats, but I don’t have webcam, is that okay if I just type my response? And I really like how you wrote “keep looking for the sunshine.”

      Thank you!

  • Rebecca

    Hi Ruby

    You made me cry, a good cry though. You are truly an inspiration. I am certain you will have helped many people by sharing your story.

    • Ruby

      Hi Rebecca,
      Thank you for reading my story! I didn’t know I’d be an inspiration, but I am glad that I can help others by sharing my story!

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