GOING STRONG: Bella Bates will enjoy her third birthday soon.
GOING STRONG: Bella Bates will enjoy her third birthday soon. Mike Richards GLA220518FRNT

Against all odds: Brave Bella's incredible story of survival

BELLA Bates' story reached deep into the heart of Gladstone two years ago when a tumour taking over a quarter of her brain was discovered.

She was just one year old.

After six surgeries and multiple rounds of high-dose chemotherapy, it still wasn't enough and her parents, Robin Berthelsen and Dan Bates, were told by doctors at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital to "go home and make memories".

Bella is completely unaware that May is Brain Cancer Awareness month, but despite the dire predictions, at nearly three years old, Bella is today a happy, bright little girl.

The difference was world famous but controversial Dr Charlie Teo. Robin and Dan went against the advice of the medical team when they first consulted Dr Teo in Sydney.

"The overwhelming theme was that we should be very cautious," Robyn said.

"We were told he was a cowboy, but we had nothing to lose.

"He was confident he could remove Bella's tumour, but he was also very frank that she could die on the operating table."

After an agonising six-hour surgery, Dr Teo was the third neurosurgeon to operate on Bella, the first not to abort surgery and the only one able to remove the tumour.

 

Bella Bates will enjoy her third birthday soon.
Bella Bates will enjoy her third birthday soon. Mike Richards GLA220518BELA

Bella has now had two clear scans, the most recent last month.

But her future is still uncertain; not only because the highly aggressive cancer could come back, but because of the treatment itself.

Brain cancer kills more Australian children than any other disease.

Four of five people with the disease will die within five years of their diagnosis and all current treatments are not suited to children.

"Children have a developing brain and chemotherapy and radiation cause significant late effects, some of which are not noticeable for many years," Robin said.

 

BRAVE GIRL'S BATTLE: Bella Bates was diagnosed with brain cancer in September last year.
BRAVE GIRL'S BATTLE: Bella Bates was diagnosed with brain cancer in September last year. Contributed

"Immunotherapy is the way of the future but a lot of money is needed for research to divert treatment away from chemotherapy and radiotherapy."

The Federal Government has introduced a Zero Childhood Cancer initiative and Bella is now part of a trial.

"People need to talk about this, to be aware," Robyn said.

"It's our biggest childhood killer and it's hidden away."

To support brain cancer research, go to Bella the Brave on Facebook or charlieteofoundation.org.au

The reality

  • 1600 Australians are diagnosed with brain cancer and 1200 die from the disease every year
  • Brain cancer kills more children than any other disease and more people under 40 than any other cancer
  • The relative five-year survival rate has hardly changed in 30 years


Plans for huge warehouse development in estate

Premium Content Plans for huge warehouse development in estate

It would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week if approval is granted. Here’s...

Restrictions could ease as key decision looms

Premium Content Restrictions could ease as key decision looms

Queenslanders in the state’s southeast could soon be allowed to have more that 10...

Sacked councillors ordered to pay costs of dismissed case

Premium Content Sacked councillors ordered to pay costs of dismissed case

The council’s costs of the proceedings up to the date the decision was made are...