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An open letter to my son’s brain surgeon

An open letter to my son’s brain surgeon

What words do I use when no words exist to truly capture what you mean to our family?

It was six long years ago that I first met you. We were in a dark, cramped x-ray room just a few doors down the hall from where Isaac innocently played. You placed x-rays on the screen in front of my dazed and confused face. Staring back at me was what my precious five-year old son was up against–a cancerous brain tumor.


It was there that you explained Isaac’s tumor was aggressive. If you did not operate, Isaac had around two weeks left to live, but if you did operate, there was a 25% chance that he may not survive the surgery. It was too much for my head, and more importantly my heart, to comprehend.



Less than twenty-four hours later, I put my complete faith in your skilled hands. I watched helplessly as Isaac was rolled down the hospital corridor to meet you in the operating room. Expecting you to save my son’s life was a mighty tall order for me to ask, but you didn’t let me down.

I often find myself watching in awe at my now 12-year-old, cancer-free son, marveling at just how far he has come in the past six years. It is no coincidence that you often cross my mind at those exact same moments.

Thank you, Dr. Ruge, for being the beacon of hope and strength in our family’s darkest days. It is because of you that Isaac was given a fighting chance.


The Advocate Children’s Midwest Children’s Brain Tumor Center is celebrating 20 years giving kids like Isaac the care they deserve. Visit to help make a difference in lives of our youngest patients.

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  1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful heart-felt letter. I am so glad to hear that your son is cancer free! Often healthcare providers view the miracles that they create as part of “their job” and training and don’t always realize how much impact they have on their patient’s and their families lives, for generations to come. Dr. Ruge, you and your team are miracle workers.

  2. Who’s cutting onions in here?!

  3. April- your post brought tears to my eyes (no onions involved whatsoever). About 15 years ago Dr. Ruge operated on me. I was fortunate enough not to have a malignant brain tumor, but it was located such that it impacted my life greatly. As the tumor exerted pressure I lost my hearing in my left ear, became dizzy and balance challenged, suffered from tinnitis, lost my ability to taste food, lost 35 lbs and was on the path to an (earlier) death. Post surgery all of my symptoms were gone (never regained the hearing but it was a small price to pay). I lead a completely ‘normal’ life and I attribute it to Dr. Ruge and his staff. I consulted with him one day, and was in for surgery a few days later. So happy to hear the wonderful tale of your son’s recovery. Julie

  4. What a terrific story! It’s great to hear that things are well and that your son is doing well.

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About the Author

April Schippers
April Schippers