Courageous three-year-old little girl Ruby Hodgson is just days ago from celebrating the end of her cancer treatment at the University of Florida’s Proton Therapy Institute (UFPTI) in Jacksonville. She will ring a Chime of Hope, which has now become a tradition for all patients on completion of their treatment to symbolize it has worked and they are ready to face the future.
Ruby was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was 1 and underwent many treatments. Unfortunately, her tumor returned when she was 3 and specialists recommended she was sent to America to get state-of-the-art proton therapy, a special type of radiation treatment where the tumor is targeted by a precise beam, minimizing the risks of side effects and brain damage.
Ruby and her family flew to the US last month for treatment funded by the NHS. They had to throw a fundraiser called « Ruby’s Gift » to help them manage the cost of their stay in America.
During that period, Ruby was given 30 tiring rounds or proton therapy and showed remarkable fighting spirit. « She has hair loss from the beams on the top and back of her head », her dad said. « And she can be quite agitated at times, which the doctor has told us is probably because of what is going on inside her head. She is taking a lot longer to wake from the daily anaesthetic also. But apart from those effects, she is typical Ruby and just gets on with it. »
Ringing that chime next week will be an important milestone in Ruby’s recovery. UFPTI medical director Nancy P. Mendenhall said the chimes represent « the end of the cancer journey and the beginning of a new freedom ». Ruby’s dad said: « We are looking forward to that day but we’re also very nervous because from that point, it will be Ruby against the tumour again. I guess our lives will never be the same again, but we will take each day as it comes »