Recently Randy and I decided to participate in the Live Like Bella 5k race and join our good friends Charlotte and Orly Rios. This race helps bring awareness to childhood cancer. As superhero fans we thought it would be fun to help a great cause and don our superhero capes for a day.
Although we were fairly familiar with Bella’s story, it was a completely different experience to meet the brave families that are facing childhood cancer. Clearly these are the true superheroes of the world. What impressed us the most was the passion that fuels this amazing community. People from all walks of life have linked arms to make a lasting difference.
What started out as a fun event, turned into something that tugged at our heart in ways we didn’t anticipate. It has compelled us to shed more light to this under reported issue.
In 2007 at the tender age of four, Bella Rodriguez-Torres was diagnosed with Stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive form of childhood cancer. This diagnosis was a devastating blow. Her parents Shannah and Raymond did everything in their power to assist their daughter in her fight against cancer by providing her with the best medical care. However it did not end there. They flooded all the social media channels and soon #livelikebella was viral. When they requested prayer for their Bella the world rallied around them. We remember being one of thousands that joined them.
Bella courageously fought cancer until May 28, 2013, but not without leaving us a legacy first. Her family along with her many “Bella Believers” are making sure that childhood cancer is at the forefront of those that can make a difference. In addition, they act as a vital support system for the children and families that are facing childhood cancer.
So what does it mean to live like Bella and why should we also aspire to do the same? In 2012 while Bella was in an intensive care room on a ventilator, her mother Shannah put out a challenge for everyone to Live Like Bella. She pleaded with us to go out and enjoy life. “Go appreciate every moment and live with the same passion that Bella would if she was not confined to a bed”. What started as a mother’s cry, today serves as words that exhort us to appreciate life more deeply.
Bella left us with the following advice
- Wear red (her favorite)
- Show compassion (because everyone needs it)
- Pray for others (your prayers count)
- Eat S’mores (enjoy what you love)
- Belly laugh really loud (because this is how you create memories)
- Sing at the top of your lungs (use your voice as a force for good)
- See a show ( enjoy the finer things in life)
- Play an instrument (learn something new)
- Sing Jesus songs (He loves to hear your praises)
- Pray all the time (because prayer changes everything)
- Cuddle (Love the ones you’re with)
- Take a bubble bath ( take time to relax)
- Say mmmm when something tastes really good (how else will others know what they are missing?)
- Ride “It’s a Small World” at Disney (because it’s true!)
Bella’s sage advice serves to remind us to live in the moment. Embrace and appreciate what makes us smile and to put the needs of others before our own. These are words to live by in my book.
Here are some facts that took us by surprise and need the attention of all:
- Childhood cancer is the #1 disease killer of children. More than asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined.
- Approximately 13,500 children in the USA are diagnosed with cancer each year.
- Every day in the USA seven children die from cancer
- Pharmaceutical & Biotechnology companies fund over 50% of adult cancer research, but virtually nothing for children.
We encourage you to follow this amazing community and consider doing your part to eradicate childhood cancer. We must change the statistics and together we will.