Mother And 3-Year-Old Daughter Simultaneously Diagnosed With Cancer

Summar Ruelle was in the best shape of her life when she got devastating news.
The 35-year-old mother of two had just lost 60 pounds of stubborn baby weight via diet and rigorous exercise like kickboxing and running.
Then in late August of last year, the Beaverton, Ore., mom discovered a mass in her left breast. A mammogram showed nothing but an ultrasound and subsequent tests told a different story: Summar had Stage IV breast cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes, spine, ribs, hips and collar bone.
Careening from appointment to appointment, Summar suddenly found herself debating mastectomy, chemo and the removal of her ovaries with a clutch of strangers in white coats.
But a week later, all that seemed insignificant to her.
The Ruelles’ 3-year-daughter Sapphire, who’d been suffering from unexplained bruises and idiopathic fevers, had been to the doctor for some tests, as well, and the results were unthinkable. Sapphire had leukemia.
“I was absolutely devastated,” says Summar, now 36. “It was like my diagnosis became nonexistent at that moment. I wanted to cancel everything – my surgery, my treatments. I wanted to forget all of that. I felt I needed to be there for her.”
Shortly after both mom and daughter were diagnosed, “we were literally in surgery at the same time at two different hospitals,” says Summar. “But it was necessary. We didn’t have the luxury of time. I couldn’t waste any more time and she couldn’t have any delays. We had to both go forward.”
“At one point, she didn’t think her hair was going to grow back until she was an adult,” says Summar. “She started crying and my mom explained that when she stopped her medicine, it would grow back. But that was tough for her, she asked about the hair a lot.”
“Our scenario is so unique,” she says. “I haven’t found any moms in my position. There was another mother with a sick child but then the child passed away. It’s really tough.”

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