Local family reflects on love, support showed to them while their daughter battled cancer

Somewhere between endless breadsticks and pasta fagioli, mother Belinda Carvalho’s world started spinning.

She and her daughter Bella were enjoying lunch at Olive Garden when they got the call Bella had cancer. At the time, she was just 8-years-old.

“Cancer was far from our minds. It wasn’t even something that we had considered,” Belinda Carvalho said.

The pain had started months before that lunch, seemingly in random places on Bella’s body. Then it manifested. Even simple tasks became difficut for Bella. Her mom thought it might just be part of growing up.

“I thought she was becoming clumsy or clutsy,” Belinda Carvalho said.

Then, one day she found her daughter crawling across the floor.

“She said she was in so much pain that her body just wouldn’t allow her to stand upright and hold herself,” Belinda Carvalho said.

Doctors soon learned Bella had blastic plasmacytoid dendrocytic leukemia. Her case was one of just 34 in the world.

“I mean, I didn’t go to school at all. I had no friends here and I missed out on a big portion of my childhood,” Bella Carvalho said.

She was in and out of the hospital for three months. She couldn’t even walk for two of those months. That’s especially hard to deal with for a girl that loves dancing and acting.

“It was a lot of work being in a hospital for that long,” Bella Carvalho said.

Then, there was the chemo therapy. Bella loved her hair.

“I later found out that’s why I was losing my hair,” Bella Carvalho said.

Her mom and dad helped her fight as staff at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital helped them.

“So uplifting, so positive. They were supporting us in a way that we didn’t realize we needed at the time,” Belinda Carvalho said.

Children’s Miracle Network helped in other ways.

“Every dollar counts. Every dollar makes a difference,” Belinda Carvalho said.

After two and a half years of treatment and somewhere between the rides It’s a Small World and Thunder Mountain, they got the call.

Bella beat cancer. She was a survivor.

“Really, that’s the memorable piece of this whole thing, the people, the support,” Belinda Carvalho said.

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