In late November right before the Thanksgiving Day holiday and her brother Lincoln's birthday, Ruby complained of pain to her knees. Ruby's parents, Emily Malate and Jeff Malate, took Ruby to her pediatrician, Dr. Tamara Todd who is also a family friend of the Malate's. The pain would switch from one knee to the other knee and got progressively worse until it was too painful for her to walk or stand. Due to her concern, Dr. Todd ordered a number of test including bloodwork, an x-ray and ultimately an ultrasound. Ruby's bloodwork and x-ray did not reveal any abnormalities but the ultrasound appeared to show a mass in her abdomen that looked like it could be a tumorous cancer. Dr. Todd gave the devestating news to the Malate's on December 2, 2014. The very next day, the Malate's flew from Hilo to Honolulu to see the doctors at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.
On December 4, 2014, Dr. Wade Kyono, a pediatric hemotologist and oncologist ordered a number of test that enabled him to diagnose Ruby with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia or ALL. The mass in Ruby's abdomen was a bunch of swollen lymph nodes that had mashed up against each other. Dr. Kyono admitted Ruby to the hospital that very night and Ruby had her first treatment of chemotherapy on December 5, 2014. Ruby appears to be responding to her treatment but the total length of time for the treatment protocol last for two-and-a-half years. This means that she will be only five years old when she completes treatment since her birthday is May 8, 2012.
Ruby is a charasmatic, assertive girl with a lot of willful determination. She showed the nurses who was boss the first time they tried to give her "yucky medicine." All the nurses said that her temperment would help her fight this cancer. Though she protested each blood draw and medication, she also won the affection of her medical team with her purple stethoscope that she wears as a necklace and her frequent singing of the Doc McStuffins song after a procedure was over, "I feel better, so much better, thank you Doc for taking all the ouchies away." She also insists on covering her PICC line with a large purple bandage, which she says makes her feel better.
The Malate's are fortunate to have had such excellent medical care but they face a long fight ahead of them. The Malate's will have to initially fly from Hilo to Honolulu every week for Ruby's treatment. Their insurance does not cover this expense. Ruby's immunity will be vulnerable especially during the early part of the treatment protocol. Emily closed her private practice as a psychotherapist in order to care for Ruby. Jeff is also taking time off from his job as a deputy prosecuting attorney to care for the family. Although fighting this disease is impacting them both emotionally and financially, the Malate's are looking forward to having Ruby dance in her tutus again.