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Ruby is healthy. And we owe it to Tufts Medical Center

Ruby on a swingRuby Millea jumps up on the swing, her brown pigtails bouncing as she pushes off and takes flight. The seven-year-old is smiling. And she should be, having just finished her last cancer treatment. 

“For three and a half years, Tufts Children’s was our home away from home,” says Ruby’s mother Nichole. “It was always comfortable. Everyone was always kind. That goes a long way when you’re going through the most difficult time in your life.”

Ruby was diagnosed with late-stage neuroblastoma, a type of cancer found in the small glands on top of the kidneys, when she was three. She had a major abdominal surgery, chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, immunotherapy and just completed a maintenance drug clinical trial. 

“I get emotional when I think about the staff,” remarks Nichole. “I remember when Ruby had to go in for emergency surgery. The nurses were supposed to go home hours before, but they all sat and waited with us.” 

The illness left Ruby weak. She needed to learn to walk again.

Ruby Millea sitting in front of her mailbox that isn't able to fit all of her mailKnowing that Ruby enjoyed receiving cards and letters, one of the nurses fashioned a mailbox outside of Ruby’s room. The thought of a new card motivated Ruby to get in her walker, check the mailbox and complete her physical therapy each day. Local television stations also got involved, reporting on Ruby’s request for mail. As a result, she received thousands of letters from all over the world. 

“The nurses are 110 percent invested,” says Nichole “They would give Ruby a new hairstyle and even order her a cake from the bakery. We made friendships that will last a lifetime with these people.” 

Now at home, Ruby still waits for Mike the mailman to make his rounds. She says she wants to be a nurse, a scientist or maybe a gymnastics teacher someday. 

“Ruby is now a very confident, smart, happy seven-year-old child. That’s all we ever wanted,” notes Nichole. “Ruby is healthy and we owe it all to Tufts Children’s.”