Spend some time with Dr. Ruble and one thing quickly becomes evident: she truly loves taking care of people. That’s a good thing, considering she’s spent the last 26 years of her life doing just that.
When choosing where to focus her professional nursing skills, Dr. Ruble based her decision largely on where she could make the biggest difference. She knew that in pediatric oncology, she would have an opportunity to build long-term relationships with patients and their families. That sealed her decision.
Over the past two-plus decades, Dr. Ruble has managed to stretch her individual professional goal and, simultaneously, expand the repertoire of care that pediatric oncology patients at Hopkins can count on.
Probably the most remarkable result of this professional growth is the Michael J. Garil Leukemia Survivorship Program. Dr. Ruble, who runs the program and was instrumental in its development, describes it as a logical extension of care. "It became clear that it wasn't enough to treat patients and send them on their way," she says.
Now, children and adolescents who survive leukemia can participate in the survivorship program, where they are monitored for and educated on possible long-term effects of cancer and therapy. This platform is also used to study the potential long-term effects of pediatric cancers, in an effort to better prevent and address them. Currently, Dr. Ruble and her colleagues are analyzing the cardiovascular risk factors for long-term survivors and looking into ways of minimizing them.
As Dr. Ruble sees it, her desire to extend the continuum of care for her patients mirrors the selflessness of the families whose children she treats. "So many of these families have been dealt a tough hand, and their response is: 'I want to help other people'. I've learned from them what the human spirit is capable of," she says.
And she practices it daily. "I'm one of those lucky people who gets to get up and do something I love—helping children improve their quality of life. It's actually one of the most uplifting things I can imagine doing," Dr. Ruble says.
Even her pastimes involve helping others. On her days off, Dr. Ruble can often be found engaged in civic-minded activities—hammering nails in a house for Habitat for Humanity, or mentoring children whose parents are incarcerated.