Bella Sharple's Story
When she was just 13 months old, Bella was diagnosed with neuroblastoma after a tumour the size of an adult’s fist was discovered in her stomach.
For the next two weeks Bella was in-and-out of theatre, and began the first of many rounds of chemo.
Her family describe Bella as their “little ray of sunshine” and her bright personality continued to shine through the challenges of cancer treatment.
“She was a favourite with the nurses and spent her 14 months on treatment charming everyone,” Katie says.
The family’s life changed dramatically during that time. “For nearly a year, either Reuben (Bella’s Dad) or I would rock Bella to sleep and stay with her at night. She was constantly vomiting so trips weren’t an option. The whole experience does put a family under tremendous pressure, but we tried to have “fun” nights at home for the kids.”
Katie and Reuben tried to be as honest as they could with Bella’s siblings Joshua and Eva, but they were too young to understand and just missed their little sister and Mum.
The support given to Bella’s siblings is one of the many things Katie is thankful Child Cancer Foundation could offer her family.
“Our Family Support Coordinator Mary was amazing. She was so caring and would help explain to us what was happening and offer support.”Mum Katie
“She never forgot what Joshua and Eva were going through,” says Katie. “She made sure to include them in things like the beads programme, and fun activities like a special camp just for siblings of children with cancer.”
In a cruel twist of fate, just as Bella was finishing treatment in 2013 and life was getting back to normal, Mum Katie was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“It was really unbelievable to think this could actually happen,” says Katie. “As I went through chemo and its side-effects, all I could think was ‘how can children withstand this and keep their spirits up’.”
Three years on everyone is doing really well and Katie says that Bella is continuing to thrive before their very eyes. “Bella is loving being at school and being able to do ‘kids stuff’, especially being outside. She has the ability to make everyone around her happy. She’s this chatty, social, delightful kid.”
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