Wichita girl fighting brain tumor sees better results with new treatment

Bella Bush during her new treatment. (Photo courtesy Bush Family)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – We’ve followed Bella Bush’s fight against brain cancer since 2013, when she was just two years old. She has always seemed playful and happy, even when going through chemo.

“There were times she would vomit, throw up, be lethargic, low blood count, all the typical things that come with chemo therapy,” said Bella’s father, Josh Bush.

Over the years, three different chemo regimens did little to shrink her tumor.

But now, at age 7, Bella is seeing better results from a precise radiation called “proton beam therapy.”

“This type of radiation can go to the tumor, stop and then come back out,” said Josh, “whereas traditional radiation would pass through and then kinda bounce around.”

The first and only proton therapy center designed and built exclusively for kids with pediatric cancer opened at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis just over two years ago.

Bella spent almost seven weeks at St. Jude last summer, going through 29 rounds of the radiation.

In all the pictures from the hospital, she’s smiling ear to ear!

“So she’s the youngest child at St. Jude to do this radiation awake without sedation,” her father said with pride.

The equipment, similar to an MRI, can be intimidating, even for an adult!

“The room had a big table,” said Bella. “It was a really big room. No one else was in there with me. Only me and the doctors”

But Bella was never scared, even though she had to lay still for 30 minutes, wearing a protective mask over her head.

Other than losing a patch of hair on both sides of her head, Bella did not suffer any side effects, like during chemo.

“She only took a nap one time,” said Jennifer Bush, Bella’s mother. “While she was on radiation, she only took a nap one time.”

The proton beam did shrink Bella’s tumor– a lot at first, then a little.

Doctors will check her progress again at the end of March.

“They are not expecting the tumor to ever go away,” said Josh. “They’re just hoping the proton beam actually destroys the DNA of the tumor.”

That would stop the tumor from ever-growing again and allow Bella to grow even more carefree– all thanks to St. Jude.


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