Nederland 10-year-old braces for brain tumor surgery

Published 12:42 am Tuesday, November 9, 2021

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Bella Resweber is scheduled to have a tumor removed from her brain next week.

It’s the latest serious benchmark the 10-year-old Nederland girl is facing down this year as constant headaches and vomiting led to the discovery of stage 4 cancer.

The prognosis and plan for treatment are unknown as medical officials work to determine if the cancer — the rare Pinealoblastoma — has spread to other parts of Bella’s body.

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Working in the C.O. Middle School student’s favor is a loving family, a will to persevere and a talented treatment team that includes experts from Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee.

Bella and her mother, Nichole Resweber, are now in Memphis, Tenn., and could be there as long as a year.

The beginning

Nichole Resweber grew up in Nederland and moved to Buffalo, N.Y., after graduation.

She lived there for 14 years, in which time Bella was born.

She remained close to her family in Texas, visiting every year before feeling the urge in early 2021 to return home. She had moved back to Southeast Texas by June.

Following the move, Bella, who complained of headaches, started experiencing vision loss and morning vomiting.

Knowing something was wrong, Nichole made an eye appointment, at which point a medical professional immediately advised Nichole to take Bella to Texas Children’s Hospital.

They arrived Oct. 20 and didn’t leave until they were heading to St. Jude.

Testing uncovered fluid built up in Bella’s brain, which was causing pressure in her head. A tumor was discovered in the middle of Bella’s brain.

“We needed to do surgery right away,” she said. “We needed to release that pressure causing the headaches and blurry vision. We needed to biopsy this tumor because it didn’t look good.”

The initial surgery was a success, and the follow-up pathology Oct. 27 indicated stage 4 cancer called Pinealoblastoma.

“It is a very rare, very aggressive cancer,” Nichole said. “Less than 1 percent of kids are diagnosed with it. My heart just stopped. You just don’t believe it. You look at your child and they look normal, completely fine, but here she is sitting with stage 4 cancer.”

Bella Resweber is seen last month at Texas Children’s Hospital before surgery. (Courtesy photo)

Next step

With so many questions, Nichole reached out to St. Jude to explain her daughter’s situation. Hospital officials called back the next day, and told daughter and mother to come to the facility to begin the treatment process.

She was told St. Jude handled, on average, two cases of Pinealoblastoma a year.

“We packed up our stuff and moved to Tennessee,” Nichole said. “We will be here for nine months to a year doing treatment. They are going to do surgery on Nov. 16 to remove as much of the tumor as they can. After that, we have to do six weeks of radiation and five months of chemotherapy.”

St. Jude officials are looking to determine if or how much the cancer has spread this week.

Nichole said her daughter has remained strong, noting not a single tear has been shed.

“She kind of understands what’s going, but I don’t think she grasps the severity of what’s happening because she is so young,” Nichole said

“She struggles the most with being away from her best friend. She knows this is the best place for her. We talked about it, sitting down and doing some research. I don’t think she fully understands what she is about to go through because she has no idea.”

Stay involved

Nichole is chronicling Bella’s medical journey through the Bella’sFightXoXo Facebook page, and a page has been set up under, “Fighting brain cancer with Bella” to help with associated medical and travel expenses.

Most importantly, Nichole is asking community members to keep Bella in their prayers.

“With this surgery, she is going to lose her vision, which is going to be quite impaired for some time due to the type and location of the surgery,” Nichole said. “The surgeon said, ‘we have never had a kid fully lose their vision. It’s always been temporary.’”

Nichole said her daughter misses family the most, noting most of her free time had been spent in the company of loved ones.