MECHANICSVILLE, Va. -- A Hanover community is remembering an 11-year-old girl as a bright light who fought cancer bravely while lifting up others around her.
Bella Francesca, who was diagnosed with leukemia in December of 2021, passed away on Aug. 7.
To family and friends, the Kerey Creek Elementary student was a ball of sunshine known as Sweet Bella. Her family said she tried her best to never let a day pass without thinking of or doing for others.
"She was amazing like that," Michael Francesca, Bella's father, said. "So when we think and reflect upon only her 11 years, she lived a big 11 years."
Chrissy Francesca called her daughter the "heart of the family."
The pain of losing Bella has been unbearable for her parents, twin brother, loved ones and friends.
It was a blow that her mom and dad didn’t see coming, because Bella was in remission.
When the girl passed from an infection that weakened her body it was something her mother said doctors at VCU had only researched.
In fact, her parents believe Bella may be the first case of the infection that doctors are able to study first-hand.
That is something her mother believes Bella predicted.
"She said she would teach the medical world something," Chrissy Francesca said. "They’ve only studied it. So the nurse right away looked it up and sent the article to different departments, so she is someone they are going to learn from, unfortunately."
Bella's mom said that knowledge gives her some solace.
"That definitely helps us to know that she can help someone else because she spent 24/7 trying to figure out how to make everyone else happy,"
Chrissy Francesca said.
Bella's family is also comforted by learning how far reaching and impactful her story has been. Signs of their now-guardian angel are everywhere.
"I don’t have to look for them. I’m flooded," Chrissy Francesca said. "Someone from South Africa is reaching out, Nova Scotia — all pockets of the world following Bella’s story. Someone on the Walt Disney page posted today that they spread pixie dust because we asked for random acts of kindness in lieu of flowers. And they say dragonflies, butterflies — it’s like she’s flooding with these signs all over. I feel like she is doing it to say, 'You are going to be OK.'"
Now they want the world to cling to the huge life message this tiny soul carried daily.
"Be happy, be kind to each other and pray," Chrissy Francesca said.
Michael Francesca said his daughter was a giver.
"If there was anything to take away from this, if there’s something nice you can do nice for someone without asking for anything in return, just do it," Michael Francesca said.
If you would like to contribute to the Francesca family, visit their GoFundMe here.