Letters and love help Manitowoc teen battle cancer and heartbreak
A 17-year-old Manitowoc girl battling a rare form of brain and spinal cancer is preparing to undergo major surgery, and she's getting support from people around the world.
"I'm scared. I know I have great doctors and all that, but you never know. We only know that it's all in God's hands," says Isabella Brooks.
Isabella Brooks was just 12 when she was diagnosed with the terminal illness. Her first surgery left her almost blind.
Now, doctors plan to remove a mass growing on an inoperable tumor in her brain.
Isabella is getting a lot of hope and support from strangers around the world. Her adoptive mom Becky took to Facebook to ask people to send cards and letters to Isabella as she prepares for surgery.
The Facebook post took off. It's been shared hundreds of times.
"I just thought if she could realize there are people out there who care," says Becky Brooks.
The post also includes details of Isabella's heartbreak. About four years ago, Isabella's parents decided they didn't want to care for her anymore.
Isabella was placed in foster care. She bounced between four different homes.
Eventually, Isabella became one of nine foster children adopted into the Brooks family.
"We were asked one day to do respite for a young lady. We were told she had brain cancer, and she had had surgery," remembers Becky Brooks.
When Isabella learned she had to go through another surgery, she feared her new family would give up on her. She had been let down in the past.
Becky Brooks shares this heartbreaking story: "When she found out she had to have surgery again, the first thing she said to me when we got in the car: 'Are you going to put me back in foster care?'"
Isabella still holds on to that emotional trauma as she fights for her life.
"It really bothered me, because I can't imagine a parent doing that," says Becky Brooks.
Isabella's new support system keeps her going.
"My mom always tells me if I'm having a rough day or things are just not going very well for me, she always tells me, 'Tomorrow's a new day. Make it a good day,'" says Isabella.
Isabella's support system grows with every letter and package that arrives at the Brooks' Manitowoc home. She runs to the mailbox first thing after school.
"Every day I'm thinking, 'Is there going to be mail for me when I get home? Is there going to be cupcakes for me when I get home?' And stuff like that. I just get super excited," says Isabella.
Becky Brooks plans to read every letter to Isabella after her Oct. 29 surgery. That's when Isabella will need the encouragement the most.
You can help give Isabella that encouragement by sending cards and letters and packages to:
2325 S. 22nd St.
Manitowoc, WI 54220