Belle was diagnosed with chordoma, a rare skull base tumor, in 2012. She is 1 of 20 children in the United States diagnosed with this type of tumor per year. We relocated to Boston for 5 months so that Belle could receive a specialized radiation. Given the pathology of Belle’s tumor, how much was able to be surgically removed, and treating the tumor with high doses of radiation, Belle’s future looked bright. Our radiation oncologist did give us warning that very rarely these tumors can come back much more aggressively than before, again, it happens very rarely.
In December of 2014 Belle began experiencing double vision. Hoping that this was just a side effect of radiation we scheduled a MRI. A few days later our world was rocked to the very core as our very rare situation became even more rare. Belle’s tumor was back and it looked much nastier than before, Belle’s neurosurgeon tried to remove the tumor but it wouldn’t budge. Pathology revealed that this new tumor was the more aggressive form of what Belle had been diagnosed with in 2012. To make matters worse, the tumor was doubling size every four days, we needed to start chemotherapy immediately to save our girl’s life.
When we told Belle that she would be receiving chemotherapy her very first reaction was touching her hair and whispering, “It’s all going to fall out.” As a preteen girl your hair is extremely important and losing her beautiful, brown locks was simply heartbreaking.
Just a couple of weeks after starting chemo, before her hair ever began falling out, Belle turned to me with a determined look in her eye and said, “I want to shave my head, I’m not going to let chemo take this from me, I’ll decide when I lose my hair.” That night with the help of a couple of amazing nurses, we shaved our courageous girl’s sweet head and the end result could not have been more amazing. She was stunningly beautiful, her fierceness and strength radiated from within.
Bald Beauties gave Belle an opportunity to be celebrated for her courage and bravery and to capture and showcase everything that Belle encompasses as a person. Her photos capture her spunk and sass, as well as her beauty, and stand as a reminder that although Belle has been on an extreme journey, she is still standing, radiant and stronger than ever before. She is a fighter and nothing, not cancer or a bald head, is going to stop her from enjoying the life that she has been given and spreading light and hope everywhere she goes.