Why I Chose a Toy Drive at My Wedding

At the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center, a long-standing tradition is for our patients to ring a life-size gong on their final day of treatment. This is a symbolic closing to their radiation treatments. During this celebration, our pediatric patients are presented with a wagon of donated gifts. The child is cheered on by family, friends, and their treatment team, as they choose gifts so they can leave full of joy.

In their recent wedding, our Radiation Therapist, Joseph Ruiloba and his wife, Neta, dedicated their wedding registry to collect toys for children receiving proton therapy. They posted the donation opportunity on their wedding website with details of why this type of initiative is important to them. “We were completely overwhelmed by the support. We are so grateful to our friends, family and even special donors who stumbled onto our page to make a contribution,” said Joseph.

Knowing from experience

As a pediatric cancer survivor, Joseph remembers what it’s like to go through treatment. “While I was undergoing treatments as a child, I remember my mom rewarding me with pizza and a toy after each treatment. I remember looking forward to my treatments because of these rewards and incentives, along with the idea that the special radiation machine was giving me super powers.

From my own experience, I know how much it means for our patients to have something to look forward to after treatment.”

Choosing his career path to help others

“I have worked at MD Anderson Cancer Center for 5 years. “As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to pursue a career helping and curing people. I am drawn to the field of medicine and innovative technology. I found the perfect balance in the field of radiation therapy—an evolving world that integrates both of these criteria along with direct patient care.”

“What I love most about working at the Proton Therapy Center is the opportunity to work with pediatric patients. I look forward to seeing their smile as they enjoy the gifts generously donated by the guests at my wedding.”

Advice to parents of pediatric patients

“Be strong and positive for your child. They look at you as a source of strength. Even though they might have to go through radiation at a young age, proton therapy has minimal long term side effects.”