Raul Urra could not think of a prouder moment in his life than when his daughter, Ruby Rodriguez, was born on August 20, 1998. There is another date that Raul Urra will never forget, June 25, 2015, the day Ruby was diagnosed with cancer.
Ruby began complaining of what she thought was a tummy ache. Urra took her in to get checked and the physician prescribed laxatives. Two or three days passed, and Ruby experienced no improvement, so her father made an appointment with Dr. Roberto Gomara, a gastroenterologist at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, who discovered a mass in the child’s abdomen—it was cancer.
“That’s when the nightmare started,” said Urra.
Ruby was diagnosed with desmoplastic small-round-cell tumor, an aggressive and rare cancer that primarily occurs as masses in the abdomen. Initially, Ruby was taken into emergency surgery to try to remove the mass, but the tumor was too large. Ruby then underwent three rounds of chemotherapy in an attempt to shrink the mass.
On April 20 of this year, Dr. Cathy Burnweit, Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Nicklaus Children’s, performed what would become a 16-hour surgery on Ruby. During the procedure, hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), a highly concentrated, heated chemotherapy, was delivered directly to the abdominal cavity.
The surgery was divided into two days and resulted in beautiful news for the Urra family; the mass was successfully removed completely from Ruby’s abdomen.
Ruby underwent one more round of chemotherapy and radiation as a preventative measures to ensure that the cancer does not return.
“Everybody at Nicklaus Children’s has been overwhelmingly kind, nice and helpful. I couldn’t say enough good things,” said Urra.
Although Ruby’s recovery process has been more of a marathon than a sprint, with plenty of hurdles and obstacles in between, the finish line is not too far ahead.
Urra says, “I tell her every day that she is my hero.”