Bella Nagashima’s favourite colour is aquamarine. She loves role-playing and playing dress-ups with her sister Olivia, and when not undergoing high-dose chemotherapy at the Royal Children’s Hospital, she’s in grade 1 at St Lawrence Primary School in Derrimut.
For the past three months, seven-year-old Bella has been undergoing pre-transplant conditioning ahead of what is hoped will be a life-saving bone marrow transplant. And now she, Olivia and parents Vanie and Futoshi, hold their breath and wait.
The Williams Landing family’s world was rocked three years ago when Bella was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. More than two years of chemotherapy kept the cancer at bay until March this year when they were told Bella had relapsed.
On July 20, surgeons will replace Bella’s destroyed bone marrow with Vanie’s healthy bone marrow stem cells. Then over the next two-to-four weeks, the marrow cells will hopefully divide and the blood count should start to improve.
The journey to recovery is long and not guaranteed, but Vanie is holding out that it will give her little girl “a new lease on life”. “She’s my little warrior, she’s been very brave,” Vanie said.
The family is hoping their journey will encourage other people to sign up to the bone marrow registry. Vanie said little more than a blood donation was required of her.
“No one needs to die to become a bone marrow donor. They just took 400 millilitres of stem cells from my blood product,” she said.
A fundraising day will be held on July 29 at the Derrimut Community Centre from 10am-4pm to help the family build an outdoor play space for Bella and Olivia.