Brave for Bella

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Bella Gonsalves braves leukemia with the help of Valley Children's Hospital (KFSN)

"All you have to do is be brave and get over it"
Trips to the Craycroft Clinic at Valley Children's Hospital are routine for the Gonsalves family. Bella helps take her own blood pressure while rocking her signature bow as her parents sport special bracelets.

"If we didn't' have this hospital, I don't know what we would do," said Lena Gonsalves, mother.

Last January, the Gonsalves family was given the stunning news -- Bella has leukemia.

"We were just shocked, I couldn't believe it I was like not my kid no way mom," said Lena.

Bella was admitted to Valley Children's Hospital and started treatment right away. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is the most common cancer in children. Between 2,500 and 3,000 kids in the U.S. Are diagnosed with ALL. Doctors at Valley Children's Hospital know how to treat it.

"This is the only pediatric hematology/oncology program in the Central Valley. We cover about 52,000 square miles, 11 counties," said Dr. James Ozeran, Pediatric Oncologist/Hematologist.

Like all six year olds, Bella is curious and hands on. On this day, she has a fever with some leg pain.

"The concern is when you have leukemia have you have therapy, your immune system is not 100 percent," said Dr. Ozeran.

Despite her illness, this 'little mermaid' manages to keep smiling.

"I'm super brave. I used to cry but now I'm not," Bella said. She added, "But one time I did say 'ow!' But no crying."

There are days when she has to explain to other kids about the loss of her hair.

"He said, 'It's not a girl, he doesn't have any hair.' And I said 'Well I had to shave it because it falls out.'"

Child life specialists help kids cope with their diagnosis. Bella plays with a doll named 'Henry' as part of her medical play therapy. Bella then plays the nurse and tapes sensors on to Henry -- just like the nurses at Valley Children's Hospital do to her.

"We give them the opportunity to pretend to be the nurse, pretend to be the doctor, and give them a little bit of that control back," explains Joy Barton, Child Life Specialist.

A little bit of control also makes a huge impact on parents dealing with the unknown.

"It really makes you feel at ease that you have the best of doctors here, that know what they're dealing with, and know how to treat it, and make these kids feel better," said Lena.

Bella offers this advice to children who may need treatment here.

"All you have to do is be brave and get over it."

Spoken like a little super hero!


You can be a hero for the kids at Valley Children's Hospital. Doctors see about 150 new cancer patients each year. You can help by calling 1-877-353-0000 and making a donation, or text GEORGE16 to 41444 to make a $10 donation.

Related Topics:
healthValley childrens hospitalleukemiafutures worth fighting for telethonMadera County
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