Teen recovering from strokes, brain tumors becomes top fundraiser for CHS dance marathon

CARMEL, Ind. - Around 1,100 Carmel High School students will spend part of their weekend dancing to raise money for Riley Children's Hospital. One of the participants has spent a lot of time in the hospital due to two strokes and two brain tumors.

Senior Bella Simons is using her health troubles as motivation to make a difference. The 17-year-old is recovering after undergoing major brain surgery about six weeks ago.

"I still can’t write," Simons said. "The stroke completely messed up my writing."

Simons' health problems began during her sophomore year when doctors discovered two brain tumors. She had surgery and radiation. During her junior year, she had to get special treatment for memory loss that resulted from the radiation.

Then last November, another frightening moment for Simons and her family. The teen suffered a stroke.

"As her mom, it’s been heartbreaking," said Tasha Simons. "Neither of us saw it coming because we thought she was healthy. We kept checking the tumor. The tumor collapsed and died so we thought we were in the clear."

In an effort to prevent Simons for dealing with more strokes, her doctors decided to operate in January. They later learned the teen had another stroke while she was under.

"When I woke up from the surgery, I couldn’t talk, it was really weird," Simons said. " And, I was worried that what if I never talk again? What if this is all I have to communicate with the rest of my life?"

Her loved ones were by her bedside for days and had no idea whether Simons would ever get back to her normal self. Then one day, she said, "Hi, mom."

"I was stunned and I was immediately just so grateful to god and I knew she was back and I hadn’t lost her," said Tasha Simons.

Through her medical journey, Simons envisioned her goals.  She said she is determined to recover and make it to the Carmel High School Dance Marathon.

"Through focusing on giving back and helping others it helps her get through her own problems," said mom Tasha Simons. "And, it really gave her something to look forward to."

While Simons is still adjusting to a new normal, her resilience is clear.

"I’ve been sad before," Simons said. "I’ve been sad about this, my situation, about me not being in school. And, it's okay to be sad, as long as you get out of that place and move on with your life."

Simons was recently cleared by her doctors to attend the CHS Dance Marathon Saturday and even dance a bit at the event with her classmates. She is currently the top fundraiser for the event with a total of $4,200.

While she has been unable to return to school since November, her mother said she is still on track to graduate with honors this spring.