Legacy in the News: Family grapples with double whammy

Portland Tribune

June 20, 2013

If there could be more emotionally crushing news than learning suddenly that you have stage IV metastatic breast cancer, Summar Ruelle managed to find it.

Exactly a week after Summar, 36, was told she had stage IV breast cancer that had metastasized and spread to her lymph nodes, ribs and several vertebrae, her 3-year-old daughter Sapphire was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Learning of what Summar calls the “double whammy” last September turned her family upside down.

 Body scans. Surgeries. Chemotherapy. Unemployment. Fatigue. Mastectomy. You name it, the Ruelle family — which includes Summar’s husband, Pascal, and their 5-year-old son, Jayden — has been through it in the past eight months.

Despite the physically and mentally draining trials, tribulations and on-going treatments, the mother and daughter are making the best of their situation. “We have a very unique mother and daughter relationship, because we’ve experienced something that not many families experience together,” Summar says.

The Children’s Cancer Association recently named Sapphire as one of 24 “Community Heroes,” children and teens who local medical professionals nominate to the association as exemplifying “courage, wisdom and grace” in the face of life-threatening medical challenges.

A huge bruise on Sapphire’s foot that looked like someone had stomped on it led to a visit to the pediatrician’s office. After he recommended blood work at Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel, nothing could have prepared Summar and Pascal for the sign that greeted them when the elevator door opened.

 “It said, ‘Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders,’” Summar recalls, tearing up at the painful memory.

As one of the Children’s Cancer Association’s 25 Community Heroes who exemplify courage and bravery and exhibit a positive influence on kids in the hospital, Sapphire Ruelle was honored in a Celebration of Courage in May at OMSI.
The heroes’ portraits and individual stories will be included on the Wall of Courage, a traveling exhibit moving throughout Oregon, including Randall Children’s Hospital, for the next 12 months.

Read Sapphire and Summar’s story.

See Sapphires Community Hero page .