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Fieldcrest student fighting cancer gets support from community


Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 7:42 PM CST
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MINONK (Heart of Illinois ABC) - It may seem surprising to see Fieldcrest High School fans in orange, not their usual navy and silver. But those fans are trying to give a boost to a high schooler in the midst of a serious medical fight.

Bella Fortner is a sophomore at Fieldcrest, and involved in a wide variety of extracurriculars at the school, including the volleyball, softball, and dance teams. But those were soon put on hold after a life-changing discovery.

“She’s usually a real tough cookie,” says Bella’s mother, Tina. “So I knew when she was up through the night and crying and couldn’t handle the pain, there was a little more going on.”

It started with Bella beginning to feel unusual pains in her neck during the volleyball season. After multiple evaluations, the diagnosis was much more serious than the family first thought. She was taken to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee for acute T-cell lymphoblastic Lymphoma — a cancer uncommon in females. She’s also the fourth person in her graduating class to contract cancer. It was something the family didn’t think would become so personal for them.

“I think when we got that initial diagnosis we were truly in shock, because we’ve spent a lot of years of our lives...raising money for St. Jude,” says Tina.

But Bella and her family aren’t alone. Custom shirts and bright orange was visible at basketball games for the conference last week, all in support of Bella’s fight. It’s just one sign of solidarity for her battle, something the family has taken notice of.

Suzanne Adams — the interim principal at Fieldcrest — sees the support for Bella firsthand through the student body. As a friend of the family, the situation hits even closer to home.

“We just need to keep doing what we’re doing as a community in this times of need,” Adams says, “not only for Tina and Bella, but for our entire student body.”

“I think everyone here is just really excited to get back home and find the new normal,” says Emma, Bella’s older sister. “I think that will be the next step, getting back and becoming part of the community again.”

A GoFundMe has been created to support the Fortners during Bella’s treatment. You can visit the link here to donate to the cause: Fundraiser for Lawrence Fortner by Sherilyn Klendworth : Believing in Bella!♡ (gofundme.com) You can also visit Bella’s CaringBridge here: Bella | CaringBridge

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