Ruthie is one of those kids you see and immediately notice the sparkle, even in pictures. She was born curious, but not just the way most kids are when exploring their environment. Ruthie is a creator, inventor, and out of the box thinker who is always in motion. Her energy never waned, even after eleven days of fever in May of 2019, a fact not lost on her mom Eileen Bauer, a pediatric nurse. She knew to advocate for additional testing which would lead to a devastating diagnosis. Ruthie, at just seven years old, had Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a cancer of the blood the bone marrow.
From Eileen's perspective, the months following the diagnosis were an exhausting fight for Ruthie’s life. She faced endless impossible decisions often made alone in a hospital room, financial stress from lost income and mounting expenses, and the constant struggle to balance her attention between Ruthie and Ruthie’s nine-year-old sister. For Ruthie, those months consisted of glitter-covered crafts, glow-in-the-dark slime and nearly constant attention from family and Mom’s work friends. The exception was during round three of chemotherapy when Ruthie fought off multiple infections. In those hardest days, even Ruthie worried that she may not make it out of that room.
Whether it was fortunate genetics, good treatment driven by Eileen and Ruthie's medical team, sheer Ruthie positivity, or a combination, she was finally well enough to pack up the totes full of activities and go home. About a month into remission and elated to finally be able to enjoy the outdoors, Eileen and the girls met up with LLOM photographer, Sheri Kendrick, at Sawgrass Lake Park for a photo session. The weather was lovely, the vibe was easy and fun, the girls were gorgeous, and everyone felt immediately connected with Sheri. “She’s an ethereal fairy of fun. The girls loved her,” Eileen says. “Professional, but also has a personality that encompasses what she’s doing. She was open, loving and giving in her interactions.” And that is just what comes across in the images she captured.
It’s been over a year since Ruthie finished chemotherapy, but the threat of relapse still looms with every visit to the oncology clinic. AML has a recurrence rate of about 20% in children, which decreases over time. Ruthie's hair has grown back in, which she is very happy about, but her mom will always treasure the photos of that time when the darkest part of the fight was finally over and light was appearing once again.
They are still working their way through the trauma and digging out of the financial hole, but are emerging with more hope than they ever thought possible. “I’ll treasure these precious photos always. LLOM, you’ve given us one of life’s greatest blessings...tangible memories.”
It’s Little Light of Mine's honor to be part of the #Ruthiestrong team and provide those tangible memories. You can help us give that gift to other families by clicking the donate button at the top of this page, or sharing our mission with your friends and family.