Rhody Bloggers for Good and La-Z-Boy Warwick, Rhode Island are teaming up for a Sit-A-Thon for Belle!
Belle is two and a half years old and was diagnosed with leukemia in December 2012. We are raising funds to help her family pay for their medical bills.
Here is Belle's story, as told by her mom, Melissa Bradley.
This post first appeared on Macaroni Kid on January 17, 2013.
“I’m going to drop a bomb on you. Your daughter has leukemia.” These words have haunted me every night since I first heard them. My reality in 2013 will be raising a baby with cancer. My baby has cancer.
My children had been looking forward to Christmas Day for an entire year. It was the first Christmas that Belle really understood all of it. She opened gifts, played, ate too much chocolate, napped and played more. Christmas night, on the way to a friend’s house, Belle became sick. Naturally I thought for sure that this was the result of too much chocolate!
Unfortunately, Belle didn’t get better and I immediately thought she had the stomach bug. Five days after Christmas, Belle was still sick; she was vomiting every other hour, her complexion looked grayish/green and she wouldn’t even eat a cake pop (her favorite food). If this was a stomach bug, she should’ve been better or at least getting better. But, she was getting worse. Much worse.
Thankfully our pediatrician’s office has Sunday hours and we were able to get an early morning appointment on Sunday, December 30th, 2012. As soon as Belle’s doctor walked into the examining room he asked, “How did she get the bruises?” I explained that Belle is a couch-jumping, banister-riding, light saber-dueling 2.5 year old. He chuckled a bit, checked her over and suggested we head to Hasbro Children’s Hospital so that Belle could receive some fluids for dehydration.
I’ve never been to Hasbro before but every time I’ve driven by I’ve said to myself or whomever I’m with, “I hope I never have to set foot inside that hospital, ever!” Yet here I was walking through the ER doors. Thankfully we were only there for IV fluids and we’d be home and on a road to recovery by the afternoon, or so I thought. The triage nurse at the ER doors seemed to know who we were. She said, “This must be Belle Bradley,” and we were whisked off to an ER room, completely bypassing the triage area. I chalked it up to great service! Nurses and doctors came in to check out Belle and they all asked, “How did she get the bruises?” It made me nervous. They couldn’t possibly think that I did this, could they? Tests were ordered, x-rays, ultra sounds, blood work; all because of dehydration?
Preliminary blood work came back showing Belle had dangerously low platelets and hemoglobin. Doctors threw out terms like anemia, ITP, leukemia. I didn’t hear anything other than “leukemia”. Surely they’re wrong, surely this is worst case. Her belly was very firm and distended so they sent her for an ultrasound. The doctor performed the ultrasound, asked me to hold my questions, and after it was over, asked if I was here alone. He sat beside me and took a few deep breaths. I knew the message he was about to deliver was something I didn’t want to hear. He never looked at me but blurted out the words, “I’m about to drop a bomb on you. This is leukemia.” I sat there in shock, with tears filling my eyes. I yelled at him and told him he was wrong; that leukemia is worst case, that you can’t diagnose her based on an ultrasound. He reassured me that he’s seen these symptoms before.
The walk from the imaging area of Hasbro to the ER felt like miles. I cried the entire time. When we got back to the ER room, a group of doctors were waiting for us to deliver more bad news. Her blood counts came back showing she definitively had Leukemia, more specifically Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia or ALL. She would begin receiving chemotherapy immediately and a minimum 4-week hospital stay would be necessary. I never really heard what they said that day. It was as if I were being spoken to by Charlie Brown’s teacher.
The next 2.5 years, Belle will receive chemotherapy to ensure there is no risk of relapse. She’ll lose all of her hair and become more susceptible to infection than a newborn baby. She’ll receive spinal taps, platelet transfusions, chemo round after chemo round. In the end she’ll be healthy. She’ll survive, I’ll survive.
Coming into the end of 2012, I wrote down all my goals for 2013. I had career aspirations, aspirations as a competitive athlete, financial goals and personal fulfillment goals. Leukemia has changed our family and as a result my goals and my focus will change as a result. My family needs me, my Belle needs me.
In 2012, my daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia. In 2013, my daughter will beat Leukemia.