On the 27th of January 2008, Isabella’s eyes crossed. Our contented and happy family of five were about to embark on a heart wrenching journey as Isabella battled a brainstem tumour. We would discover that sometimes love and the best that science has to offer were not going to save our Bella. The words “dismal” and “dire” were used by cancer experts to describe her prognosis, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG. It progressively robbed her of her motor functions, causing permanent double vision, paralysis, loss of speech, and ultimately her capacity to swallow and breathe while she remained fully aware of this spiral.
Isabella was the last piece in the jigsaw that was our family. She wanted to be a scientist, like her dad, and at age five was already a reservoir of knowledge. This was evident in the way she tackled her illness; she wanted to be in control and knew her medications and how to pronounce the long medical terminologies. This was the only form of control she had over this disease. We marvelled at her strength, intelligence and humour throughout the difficult days of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the operations and the needles - lots of needles, that helped us all through this difficult period.
On August 16 2008, 6 months after diagnosis, Isabella drew her last breath, lying between her parents as she had been since her eyes first crossed. Her brothers crawled into her bed and slept beside her for the next few hours embracing their beloved younger sister for the last time. We all worry about stranger danger but for us that stranger was within.
Isabella was a gift, lost to her family and to the world. This is an insidious cancer that leaves you helpless and hopeless. Join us in our quest for a cure. With your help, it can be done!