At the time when Isabella was diagnosed she was a playful, joyous 6 year old girl. She loved being called Bella and told everyone she met that her name “Bella means beautiful in Italian”. Bella loved all of the things that most 6 year old girls love. Her favorite things were dancing, gymnastics, swimming, going to school, and anything Disney. Even at such a young age, she had many dreams. She often spoke of her dreams of joining a competitive dance team and becoming a doctor when she grew up.
It came as a complete surprise when suddenly without cause, over a series of days, Bella started struggling with her writing at school and also struggled to keep her balance while walking. What started as a simple trip to the pediatrician, ended in a 5 day hospital stay where many tests, MRIs and surgery confirmed she had a Brain Tumor.
In January of 2013, Bella was diagnosed with a High Grade Glioma, an inoperable Anaplastic Astrocytoma, which was located in the thalamus. It was a rare and highly aggressive brain tumor and treatment options were limited. The news was devastating. Within a matter of days, Bella's life was turned upside-down and her new daily dream was to regain the health, independence and mobility she once had. Radiation and chemotherapy were used in an attempt to shrink the tumor and reduce symptoms. Bella bravely endured radiation and chemotherapy every day for 6 straight weeks, followed by several monthly rounds of chemotherapy. Her tumor remained stable for a year. However, in February of 2014, tumor progression was seen on her routine MRI. Due to the lack of open clinical trials and no available treatment alternatives Bella had no other option but to endure another 2 weeks of radiation and several more rounds of chemotherapy drugs in the hopes of stopping the progression. Her tumor was relentless but she was fierce. Despite her determination, Bella lost her battle with cancer on September 26, 2014, just a few months short of her 8th birthday.
Through all of this Bella never gave up. She struggled through so much but was determined not to let her cancer slow her down. Of course the radiation and chemo took its toll on her but when she felt well, she was determined to make the best of every moment. Bella never let her cancer define her and it didn’t. She continued to do the things she loved. She continued to attend school, as much as possible, because she loved school, learning, and seeing her friends. When Bella had to be at the hospital, she tried to make the best of it and spent as much time as possible playing in the playroom and making new friends. She quickly became known by the staff at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for her incredible smile and unique humorous personality.
She will forever be in our hearts and this foundation was created to honor her unique joy of life and unwavering determination.