Ambassador Ruth A. Davis traveled the world as a diplomat during her 40 years with the U.S. Foreign Service.

But when she learned she had a relapse of multiple myeloma, she headed to Arkansas and the UAMS Myeloma Institute.

“I’ve often had people ask me, ‘Why don’t you go somewhere in the area, closer to home.’ I tell them, ‘Listen. This is a question of my life and I will go where the best treatment is available,’” she said during a recent visit to UAMS.

Davis, who lives in Washington, D.C., has been receiving treatment at the Myeloma Institute for a decade. She was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2000 and was told she could expect to live three years.

When she relapsed, she decide to come to the Myeloma Institute at the recommendation of a friend.          

Eugenia Davis-Clements, Frits van Rhee, M.D., Ph.D., and Ruth Davis

Eugenia Davis-Clements, Frits van Rhee, M.D., Ph.D., and Ruth Davis

“My experience with UAMS has been wonderful,” Davis said. “It has exceeded my expectations. The staff is accommodating. There is a community that has been developed to assist the patients of UAMS. They’re welcoming and competent. It gives me the confidence I need to proceed with fighting this disease.”

A trailblazer throughout her 40 years with the Foreign Service, Davis says she enjoyed every minute of it. She was the first African-American director of the U.S. Foreign Service Institute, and the first African-American woman to be director general of the Foreign Service. In 2016 she became the first African-American to receive the American Foreign Service Association’s Lifetime Contribution to American Diplomacy Award.

Beyond her world travels, Davis is proud to be an official Arkansas Traveler — a designation bestowed upon her by the governor. She is usually accompanied on her trips to Little Rock by her sister Eugenia Davis-Clements. The two women love meeting new people at UAMS and in the community and are known by many for their smiles and upbeat attitudes.

While Davis says having multiple myeloma and going through treatments has slowed her down a bit, she does not let it stop her. In November 2016 she traveled to Europe twice: to Brussels to chair the conference of the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge and then to Vienna for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Development Organization.

Davis is under the care of Frits van Rhee, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the UAMS College of Medicine and director of developmental and translational medicine at the UAMS Myeloma Institute.

“I feel that I get the individual attention that I need. I’m not just a case study. I’m a patient with a real need and he is responsive to that. He’s one of the best in the business so I’m delighted to be a patient of Dr. van Rhee. And I am truly grateful to be patient at the Myeloma Institute.”