During his mother’s four-year battle with lung cancer, Ricky Rubio spent a lot of time in hospitals. Her feelings ranged from unease to anger to sadness.
The hospital waiting room became the place where, most often, Rubio received bad news. Tona Vives lost her battle with cancer in May 2016. She was 56 years old.
Rubio is now doing what he can to help improve the overall experience of children battling cancer as they prepare for chemotherapy.
The Spanish guard brought the “I Am Ready” project to the United States this year. This is a virtual reality program that helps explain procedures and treatment processes in hopes of reducing patient anxiety in children.
.@Cavs‘ @rickyrubio9 brings his I Am Ready project to the United States. The project helps children battling cancer prepare for chemotherapy through a virtual reality program, sharing what the treatment will entail to reduce anxiety and help familiarize children with their procedures. pic.twitter.com/oxUEYyaXDl
— The NBA Cares (@nbacares) December 7, 2022
“Since becoming a pro, I’ve always been involved in giving back to the community,” Rubio said. “When I was in Spain, especially at Christmas, we visited hospitals and gave presents to children. I always appreciated that.
“When my mother fell ill in 2012, it was hard. I always thought about opening a foundation when I retired, but I realized how important it was to do it right away. During a of my last visits – actually here in the United States, we had a conversation: She said, “I feel good, but I feel guilty that we have all these resources that others don’t have. opportunities to get a second opinion and all that I said mom don’t worry I’m going to make sure I give back to the community and help people who are going through what we’re going through and help them have opportunities like we did.
It took about two years, but the “Ricky Rubio Foundation” was finally launched in 2018, focusing on patients battling lung cancer. There ‘I’m ready‘ is one of the pillars of the foundation. It’s another way Rubio gives back to the kids.
“Imagine an adult going through this and knowing what’s going to happen and how scary it is,” Rubio said. “Put that 10 times on a child. “The children don’t understand. They are supposed to be healthy and playing all the time. Put them in the hospital where they don’t know much and they see adults and just want to be with other kids. Put them with radiation and they feel sick, it’s no fun.
“I feel like anyone who wants to get involved can be. The doors are open. There was a kid back home in Spain who came with a project. We helped them and their families – this project is really in line with what we do. We aligned our resources and our power to put it all together and we started. We started to grow and I decided that I wanted to bring this to the United States. United I wanted to have an impact where I come from and where I am.
Rubio reckons the program started with 10 children in Barcelona and has now helped over 300.
“It’s virtual reality in the hospital and the cartoon explains everything to the kids,” Rubio said. “It makes me do things like tie my shoes and get ready for basketball. The doctors tell them how it’s going to be, then we go into the treatment room to see the machines. I think it helps their brain see how it’s going to go. Children feel safer and know better what is going on.
“We also want to do it for adults. We started with children because they are more vulnerable. We do studies and see how it affects children and ultimately we want to show that it can help anyone, not just children. We want to make it even bigger. This is the first step. We are going in the right direction.
Rubio has spoken at different cancer charity events. He donated money to fund research. He does what he can to make families feel more comfortable in waiting rooms. Instead of simple chairs, it adds playrooms for children in some hospitals.
“When my mother was in the hospital, we were waiting and waiting,” Rubio said. “I create a space where you can meditate, read books, clear your mind before whatever is to come. It not only helps the patient but also the family that is there with the patient to have a different approach to going to see the doctor.
“We are also running a charity game to raise money for a hospital in Barcelona. We are building a recovery gym where you do all kinds of treatments. We have many projects to help hospitals become better.
Rubio has dispensed more than 5,000 assists during his NBA career – and will continue to do so once he fully recovers from last season’s torn ACL – but thanks to his foundation, he provides his most impactful passes off the pitch.
“The foundation takes up a lot of my time,” Rubio said. “In the future, this is where I want to spend the most time. I want to help research and innovation in the medical field. We talk to doctors all over the world about different treatments. The dream is to work hard and find a cure for cancer.