It always starts out simply, a cold, minor body aches or the flu. As parents, we don’t want to push the panic button but we have a responsibility to our kids. When Isabella had a fever of 103.5 2 weeks after recovering from pneumonia, her parents rushed her to the ER.
Two days later, on December 9, 2013, Bella had a bone marrow biopsy and, a PICC line and feeding tube inserted. She was formally diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APML) and spent 2 weeks in the PICU. It wasn’t an easy 2 weeks – she suffered severe fevers with temps as high as 106, a reaction to chemotherapy which caused her body to swell up to 11 pounds more than normal and PICC line infections that resulted in being inserted into the jugular vein in her neck. Eventually, a port was inserted into her chest, her leukemia was in partial remission and, after 41 days, was allowed to go home.
Lisa and Harry, Bella’s parents, quickly learned nursing. With 6 daily medications, blood thinner shots, IV poles and months of chemotherapy, it became a full-time job.
After 2 rounds of chemotherapy, Bella was still making leukemia cells, this was worrisome as she should have stopped producing them. Her family and doctors had a bone marrow drive in hopes of finding a match. Unfortunately, not even her sister was a match.The good news? After chemotherapy part 1 of round 3, Bella was found to be in complete remission and would not need a bone marrow transplant. The bad news? She tested positive for Pseudomonas, a bacteria in her blood that is attracted to plastic. Guess what? Her port is plastic so it needed to be removed until she was better.
Despite a 3 week delay, Bella was able to complete her third round of chemo and learned to swallow pills so she wouldn’t need the NG tube anymore. Swallow pills? Yes, swallow pills. Bella is only 3 years old.
With all the chaos and hospitalizations, what makes Bella happy? The Make-A-Wish Foundation for one thing! On July 19, 2014 Bella traveled to Boston to meet Justin Timberlake. It was an incredible experience for her and helped to raise her spirits even more!
So what’s she like? Eh, typical 3-year-old. Bella loves to dress up and role play, do arts and crafts and watch movies. She also like to dip her onion rings in her chocolate shake. Why? “Because it’s yummy.” Ew. Maybe I’ll try it this weekend and post a review for you.
Bella’s made many friends, she’s part of the Sigma Kappa Sorority at Rutgers University, they adopted Bella as their RU4KID and is visited by friends who work for the Embrace Kids Foundation. She has been blessed with a lot of love and friendship throughout her battle.
In addition to her parents, Bella has 3 siblings – Brianna 8, Harry 12 and Hayley 13. It’s not been an easy road for them. Lisa and Harry don’t see Hayley and Harry, Jr. as much as they’d like as they are from Harry’s previous marriage and the hospitalizations and treatments consume so much time. Brianna has begun rebelling and doesn’t quite understand why Bella gets so much attention. All of this is normal, but unfortunate, in a family with a sick child.
Mom and Dad do everything they can to keep everyone’s spirits up. Harry took the news much harder than Lisa and she held everyone together with her quiet strength and positive attitude. The same quiet strength and positive attitude that Bella has inherited and helps get her through the day.
Where is she today? Unfortunately, Bella has been in the hospital for a few weeks. She’s been feverish and this morning they are awaiting CAT scan results for a lump that appears to be growing in her neck. She and her family could use a few prayers.
They could also use some financial help if you’re up to it – Help Bella Battle Leukemia. Illness comes with a financial and emotional burden, no disease is immune.
For today, keep Bella in your prayers and come back tomorrow to learn more about Bella, her family and Leukemia. Can’t wait until tomorrow? Head on over to their Facebook page to read more about her.
How do you think you would cope with a sick child?