BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — Many women celebrating breast cancer awareness month are survivors of the disease. But others are battling breast cancer right now, and not all of them will survive.
Summar Breeze Ruelle told KOIN 6 News about her journey and how she’s making the most of the time she has left.
Three years ago, she says her life changed forever when she found a lump in her breast.
“At that time they learned that cancer had progressed to my bone and my hips and my ribs and various places in my spine,” Ruelle said.
She was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Doctors said the median life expectancy was 36 months.
Just a week after her diagnosis, she received another devastating blow: her 3-year-old daughter, Sapphire, had leukemia.
“If we had delayed any further she would have only had about 2 weeks to live,” Ruelle explained.
Sapphire completed her treatment last year and is thriving today. But the outcome for her mom won’t be the same.
“We try to work together as a couple to prepare them for the time when I’m maybe not here,” Ruelle said. “No matter how hard that is it’s something that’s necessary.”
Ruelle says she and her husband have always been upfront with their 2 children. Now, she says, they’re just trying to make the most of the precious time she has left.
“Making memories with my family… We were talking earlier about how we did a camping trip this weekend even though I had a really rough week last week,” she said. “That’s because I want to make those memories for my kids.”
Ruelle credits her family and support groups with helping her emotionally. She says she doesn’t consider herself a survivor, but there are still more tricks in the bag including a recent round of chemotherapy.
“I am hopeful, at the same time, I have lost a lot of friends to this disease,” Ruelle said.
Over the last 3 years, Ruelle says she’s known 20 friends who have lost their lives to breast cancer. While she is involved in raising money for research, she says her first priority is her children.
“Focusing on my health, and doing everything I can to be as strong a mom as I can,” she said.
Ruelle is the Pacific Northwest ambassador for METAvivor, a group dedicated to men and women battling stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.
On Saturday, her daughter Sapphire will be honored as a survivor hero at the Light the Night event for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.