OHSU

My Knight Cancer Story: Ruth Marie Jones

Brain Cancer Knight Story

Diagnosed with cancer when she was just 6 months old, Ruth has been battling cancer for decades. She has had a front row seat to the advances in cancer treatment, and has a remarkable, positive outlook on life. Ruth enjoys volunteering for many community activities through her church near her home in Milwaukie, Oregon.

I was just 6 months old when doctors told my mother I had cancer. She had noticed a strange reflection in my eye. Doctors diagnosed retinoblastoma in both eyes.

Doctors removed my left eye, and my mother took me to New York for radiation treatments. At the time, it was the only place to go. The treatment was successful, but when I was 5, doctors at OHSU found a tumor in the bone above my right eye. This one pressed on my brain; I couldn’t keep any food down. I was sick all the time.

My mother took me back to New York for surgery. Doctors took out the cancerous bone and replaced it with a metal plate. They told my mother I had less than six months to live. For six months, my left side was paralyzed. The tumor returned twice within those six months, and two surgeries battled it back. I grew up with only blurry memories of all these treatments.

Forty years later, the cancer returned again. This time, a tumor in my brain started to bleed. Nicholas Coppa, M.D., a neurosurgeon at OHSU, removed most of the tumor. I learned that the radiation therapy I had as a baby was responsible for this tumor and the ones I had at age 5. Nevertheless, my OHSU cancer team recommended radiation again as the best treatment for this new tumor. Martin Fuss, M.D., oversees my radiation therapy treatments, which use the latest high-tech radiation equipment. With a system called the Novalis Tx, Dr. Fuss can shape the radiation beams accurately to my tumor and stay away from normal tissues. My remaining eye and optic nerve are critical organs. No one wants me to lose my vision. This time, the treatment does not scare me.

Everyone at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute is wonderful. Because of them, I remain active in my church and lead a community outreach program that helps people in need. There are not enough words to thank the doctors, nurses and technicians at OHSU.

Glossary

retinoblastoma
Malignant tumor of the retina, usually arising in the inner nuclear layer of the neural retina.

osteogenic sarcoma
A primary malignant bone cancer that arises from the cells which produce bone.