As a happy, energetic 11 year old living on the Sunshine Coast, Bella loved all things sport. She represented her school and district in netball, swimming, athletics and cross country. Bella was also Age Champion at her surf club three years running, and Surf Sports Champion for two years in a row.
In January 2015, her parents Shae and Emma initially thought that her niggling sore knee was a result of her active lifestyle, and she may have injured her leg while playing sport.
A series of doctor and physiotherapy appointments followed, along with an MRI. Further tests brought the worst news to Bella and her family – it was likely that she had bone cancer.
“It was during the MRI, I could see the imaging – there was a huge white shadow half way up her leg.” Bella’s mum Emma
The MRI showed Bella had a lesion, most likely osteosarcoma (bone cancer), in her right thigh bone. Five days later, an ambulance transferred Bella from Nambour Hospital to the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. She then underwent extensive testing, more x-rays and MRIs along with a bone scan, a CT scan, PET scan and biopsy. This resulted in Bella’s diagnosis – metastatic osteosarcoma of the right distal femur.
At that moment, the family’s life changed forever. Bella and her mum relocated to Brisbane and her dad and two younger brothers stayed in Nambour and visited the hospital whenever they could.
Two days later, instead of starting her first day of high school, Bella started her first round of intensive chemotherapy. The first of a 29 week plan, six rounds of chemotherapy in five week cycles – three weeks of chemotherapy, two weeks off.
Bella went from being an energetic, young sports star to being confined to a wheelchair in hospital. She needed the chair to protect the tumour and avoid a break and possible amputation.
Bella’s treatment plan also included surgery to remove the primary tumour in her leg – and replace part of her right femur with a titanium rod.
Two months later, Bella stood up for the first time in 201 days! The next step was more chemotherapy followed by six weeks of radiation treatment.
During her long hospital stay, Bella enjoyed the services of the Children’s Hospital Foundation bedside play volunteers, the theatre volunteers, book bunker volunteers and being a star on Juiced TV.
Sadly, at Bella’s 12-week post treatment scans, the cancer was back. And it had spread. Bella now had two additional tumours in her shoulder and hip.
Now 13 years old, Bella has once again started intensive chemotherapy and radiation, as well undergoing multiple surgeries to remove the tumours in her shoulder and hip.
Bella has endured more than any teenager should, but her attitude and amazingly positive approach to life will be an inspiration to everyone.
Tune into the Channel Nine Telethon on Saturday 19 November 2016 to see Bella’s progress and learn how you can help sick kids like her, today and tomorrow.