Ottumwa teen with cancer survives 5-week coma

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Robert Ruby, 17, pulled through, with hardly any memory of the month-long experience/Family Photo

Robert Ruby's symptoms started in June of 2015.

Body aches, loss of appetite, fatigue--all similar signs of a common flu.

His condition turned out to be much worse. Ruby's doctors told him he had leukemia.

"The first words out of his mouth were...he asked me if he was going to die,” said Ruby’s mom, Bobbie Hannan.

Treatment in Iowa City started immediately. Ruby’s visits were scheduled twice week.

"It takes over your life,” Hannan said. “Working becomes hard...trying to earn a livingtrying to keep things stable at home...and plus take care of him...make sure he's emotionally and physically OK. It's almost impossible, but as a parent, you just find yourself doing what you need to do."

Thanksgiving came around, and then Christmas. They learned to appreciate the little things; even if each moment was spent in a hospital bed.

"We went and bought a poinsettia and put it in the room for a Christmas tree," Hannan said.

What tested this family the most, though, was a possible case of pneumonia two years ago. Ruby's lungs shut down, and he was placed in a medically-induced coma for five weeks.

"(Doctors said) there's a 50 percent chance he's not going home with you ever,” Hannan said. “They brought in palliative care which is like hospice....I had to plan out his funeral."

Ruby woke up with little to no memory of what happened.

"I remember the ride home,” he said. “And I asked my mom what happened? And she told me and yeah, I bawled."

Ruby is in remission now.

His weekly trips to Iowa City have turned into monthly trips, with treatment scheduled to end this November.

"Me and my momwe’re both excited and scared at the same time,” Ruby said. “We’re scared of what’s going to happen next."