On New Years Day of 2011, Trey and Kim were told that their seven-year-old daughter Bella Bowman was diagnosed with an ependymoma brain tumor, an answer to many months of unexplained illness.
Overwhelmed with emotions, fear, and uncertainty about what the future would bring, many questions arose as to what steps to take to embark on this difficult journey. Thus, Bella's Red Dot Story began.
Upon the discovery of the tumor and the decision that surgery was necessary, Trey and Kim explained to Bella that the cancer was like a "Red Dot" that had to be removed. Dr. Allen Joseph and Dr. Kelly Scrantz successfully removed the Red Dot. This was a very risky surgery that came with many possible complications including the inability to breathe, eat, swallow, or walk on her own when the surgery was complete. Her surgery was labeled as a gross total resection. Bella's first words after surgery were, "Is the Red Dot gone?" Ten days later Bella recovered from surgery and was moved to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN then to Jacksonville, FL for proton radiation. Eight months after radiation treatments, Bella developed brain stem radiation necrosis, a rare side effect from radiation treatments. Bella underwent 60 hyperbaric oxygen treatments, chemotherapy treatments, sleep studies, and physical, speech, and occupational therapy from August-December 2011; traveling back and forth from Baton Rouge to Memphis.
Mid December 2011, Bella was returning home from St Jude when she began choking and having difficulty breathing. Kim, Bella's mom, called Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital as they crossed the Louisiana state line. Bella was admitted to this hospital that evening and in less than 48 hours, her ability to swallow and breathe was hindered so much that she was put on a ventilator and admitted to PICU. An MRI showed that she had a stroke, and the team of physicians realized that the radiation necrosis in her brain stem was irreversible and nothing more could be done. Doctors did not know how much time she had left, but wanted to provide her and her family comfort care. Within five days of removing the ventilator, Bella passed away in her daddy's arms and her mommy beside her.
Bella was a courageous and strong eight-year-old little girl who did not fear her battle with brain cancer. Her unique way of communicating to the world was indescribably amazing. She gave belief, hope, courage, strength, and faith to so many. Bella's faith was challenged by a Red Dot; however, she would always say, "Go away Red Dot and don't you ever come back." Although Bella is in heaven, her kind, loving, strong, sweet spirit will continue to be shared with many through her family, friends, and the Bella Bowman Foundation. The unity that Bella created amongst so many will live with us forever.