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Childhood cancer survivor launches bracelet company

May 23, 2024

Bella Cervantes of Hammond originally launched Brave Bella’s Bead Co. to save up money for braces. But, since her launch in May, Bella has already surpassed her financial goal and wants to continue making bracelets for her community and beyond.

A local cancer survivor is proving that she can defy the odds and accomplish her dreams – and she is much younger than you may expect.

Bella Cervantes was 1 year old when she started battling retinoblastoma – a rare eye cancer that impacts only 200 to 300 hundred children a year, according to Cleveland Clinic.

Her parents were not aware of her symptoms until she was 2-and-a-half-years-old, and immediately took action. Within less of a week of her diagnosis, doctors removed her right eye – where the cancerous tumors were located – and gave her a prosthetic eye.

Bella has been cancer-free since and has gained local recognition for persistence, hence why she is known in Hammond as “Brave Bella.”

Now, Bella is beginning to gain traction beyond her community, thanks to her newly-launched bracelet company.

Bella originally launched Brave Bella’s Bead Co. to save up money for braces. But, since her launch in May, Bella has already surpassed her financial goal and wants to continue making bracelets for her community and beyond. Her bracelets have even been shipped to places outside of Louisiana, including Puerto Rico and Hawaii.

Bella hopes to open up her own jewelry shop one day.

“This might be really big one day,” Bella said. “I’m going to try to keep in for a while.”

Her bracelet designs are largely inspired by her faith. Her mother, Robin Cervantes, says that Bella’s faith has driven her to remain persistent through so many obstacles. Cervantes remembers her daughter praying from a young age for her dreams to come true.

Faith has not only helped Bella through her hard times, but also her mother. When Bella first got her diagnosis, the doctors were shocked that the tumors did not spread to her other eye or her brain, given how long she had been battling retinoblastoma.

A miracle like that was “all the Lord,” Cervantes said.

“I had to say God loves her more than I do,” Cervantes said. “He has amazing plans for her life. I would repeat that over and over. I really think speaking that has made it surpass because everything she does, she does it with her whole heart.”

Bella’s bracelet designs are also inspired by local schools, including her dream school – Southeastern Louisiana University – where she aspires to play college soccer.

Bella started playing soccer when she was 4 years old. Since then, she has known her calling is to be a professional soccer player. However, when Bella was 6, a social worker told her that she should choose another sport because of her peripheral vision.

Despite the social worker’s disapproval, Bella continued playing soccer. She practices every chance she gets, and will even ask her coach if she can practice with the boys’ team to up her training days. Now, Bella is on an elite travel team that is for players two years above her age.

Bella regularly goes to St. Jude’s Children Hospital for check-ups. Her story has inspired other children, including child athletes, with retinoblastoma to keep moving forward.

“Don’t tell kids that they can’t do something, because they can do anything,” Cervantes said.

You can find Bella’s bracelets at Hammond shops including Lion Nutrition, The Wooden Grove Co. and Rind Cheese and Sandwich Shop. Her Instagram and Facebook is Brave Bella’s Bead Co.

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