A 10-year-old cancer fighter who inspired many others to live to the fullest passed away this week, her family told supporters on Tuesday.
Bella Rodriguez-Torres died after a 6-year battle with rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancerous tumor of the muscles that are attached to bones. The disease normally occurs in the head and neck, the urogenital tract and the arms or legs. It is the most common soft tissue tumor in children.
When she was first diagnosed stage IV cancer at 4 years old, doctors only gave Bella four months to live. She surprisingly recovered, and started to walk on her own two feet and the tumors soon disappeared. However, the cancer returned throughout her life, necessitating numerous rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. She still didn't give up.
"She lived not five months but more than five years and made an impact that none of us in this room could make a lifetime," her godfather Ralph Rodriguez-Torres told CBS Miami.
Supporters of Bella began to "Live Llke Bella," a motto for pursuing everything that life has to offer.
"Live Like Bella means to eat something and enjoy it, savor it, go play with gusto, even the simple things. Do them and enjoy them. Learn something new, get out of your comfort zone and enjoy life," Ralph explained.
Even LeBron James adopted the motto. He and his teammate Dwyane Wade wrote the slogan on their shoes before the Miami Heat's game against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.
"D Wade came to me with the story. It was a no-brainer for me. You know, it's sad. It puts everything into perspective. At the end of the day, this game is just basketball," he explained to CBS Miami.
Bella's parents announced on May 8 that her organs began to fail, and they had run out of options to treat her cancer.
"There are few words that can describe what it feels like to have to make a decision of this magnitude. While it has been painstaking to decide to no longer fight and now just ensure her comfort, we are at peace," mother Shannah Rodriguez-Torres said to CBS Miami.
Throughout her illness, Bella tried to raise awareness for other children in her situation. She started a campaign for fun Band-Aids for sick children with her mother in October 2012. The cause started when Bella requested an "Angry Birds" band-aid instead of a normal band-aid.
"For a child, something so simple as a child's Band-Aid, can brighten their day," father Raymond Rodriguez-Torres said to CBS Miami. "In the midst of something so challenging, something so simple."