For those of you who have read my earlier blogs, you know that my 7 year old daughter has Pre-B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I wanted to share her story and today felt appropriate because she has a big fundraiser today in north Georgia.
Bella is a fun-loving, smart and artistic 7 year old. She loves to paint, draw, color and doodle on everything. She has a sassy style all her own and chooses outfits with animal prints, bold patterns and bright colors. Not surprising considering her fashion choices, Bella loves to be the center of attention at all times and aspires to “be famous.” She has her career plans worked out and told one of her doctors that she’ll be “an illustrator for Disney or Nickelodeon on the weekdays and an oncology nurse on the weekends.”
Bella’s life was completely normal until one day in October 2013. She went to work with her mom as she always did on Tuesdays. After lunch she looked very pale and was doubled over in pain, grabbing at her right side, barely able to walk. Her mother took her to Urgent Care, where they said Bella had a kidney infection and sent her home with an antibiotic.
After a restless night, Bella’s mother Caran took her to the pediatrician’s office who examined Bella and sent her to the hospital for an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed an enlarged spleen, but was otherwise inconclusive, as was a CT scan.
That evening, the pediatrician called. She said, “Go to the ER immediately-I’ll call ahead and tell them you’re on your way.” Caran was terrified, not knowing why they were rushing over and what to expect. After more tests, Bella was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) the most common cancer found in children.
The pain in Bella’s thigh bones was excruciating because the leukemic cells were crowding out the normal cells, so she received pain meds throughout the night and day. She had a blood transfusion and was implanted with a chest port (which she was relieved to find did not show through her clothes!). Bella also had a bone marrow biopsy, a spinal tap, EKG, ECHO, and abdominal x-ray.
In March 2014, Bella caught the flu. She was in the hospital in a medically-induced coma on an oscillating ventilator. The PICU staff several times tried to prepare Bella’s mother for Bella’s passing by sending in chaplains and social workers. Bella was extremely sick and spent a total of 71 days in the hospital, but she survived! She came out of the experience with “a few battle scars,” spent 6 weeks in outpatient rehab, and her walking and stamina are not what they were before, but her family feels blessed that she made it through and will continue to get stronger.
She is now in the maintenance phase of treatment. Bella stays positive and is quick to teach others, especially her little brother and her classmates, about leukemia in a way that is informative and not scary. She helps others around her understand her struggles without giving a “pity-party” for herself. She has even started a non-profit, Bella’s Crafty Kids (www.bellascraftykids.org) that brings baskets of art supplies to children in the oncology unit of local hospitals. She is amazing!
You can follow Bella’s progress and story on her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/isabellavsleukemia
Bella was honored as a hero for the Alex’s Lemonade foundation: http://www.alexslemonade.org/hero/isabella-rice
We appreciate all of your thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes!!!