Bella Thurston has been battling ependymoma, a brain and spine cancer, since she was five years old. Her New Mexico middle school recently held picture day, which is typically a day of nervous anticipation. Since she has lost some hair to chemo, Bella strode into picture day with her typical ball cap on.
The photographer said her hat was “against policy.”
The photographer told Bella:
You can go fix your hair, take your hat off, or I won’t take your picture.
And Bella opted to forego her pictures.
When recounting the experience, Bella said:
It was just really humiliating and upsetting for me. I was trying hard not to cry. It was just not a good experience.
Bella’s mom, Kara Thurston, could not believe the incident.
When something happens to your kid that you can’t fix, it’s heartbreaking.
Bella wants to be treated like everyone else.
I would like my picture to be taken the normal way and to be in the same spot that it always is in the yearbook.
The company behind the school photos was Lifetouch Photography.
They called it a misunderstanding, saying:
We have been in touch with the school and have reached out to the family to offer their daughter a complimentary photography session in a place of their choosing. In light of this, we will be revisiting our training protocol with our photographers.
The internet cannot believe how insensitive the photographer was to Bella.
That’s ridiculous. Shame on them. Let the girl wear her hat.
— Huntsville Christian Academy (@HuntsvilleChri1) August 29, 2018
Never! That is appalling! If the shoe was on the other foot would they teach hatless?
— Deborah M. Jurgens (@leroux57_) August 28, 2018
And why is this even a question? If a child has a medical issue they should be allowed to do whatever to make them comfortable.
— jason jones (@primetimehokie) August 28, 2018
Cancer stricken teen was refused
Her Middle School Class picture
For not removing her hat, as chemo has made her lose her hair.
Good grief, why can’t people be decent?
Much love, Miss Bella
— Luna Lovegood ✨ ✨ (@LunaLuvgood2017) August 28, 2018
Her teacher dropped the ball. Arrangements with the photographer should have been made ahead of time. Why put the child in such a position? Just thoughtless not malicious.
— Sallyforth (@Sallyforth18) August 28, 2018
What in the actual hell?!
— TOᑭ ᖇOᑭE TᖇAViS (@TopRopeTravis) August 28, 2018
Sometimes don’t you wish some of these stories were NOT True
You’re beautiful Sweet Pea…I remember those days … 4 Brain Surgeries 3 Times Head shaved & Frankenstein’s sutures …
I GET U…So they are soulless Zoombies ♂️
— Elaine Guthrie (@ElaineEguthrie1) August 28, 2018
Others are calling out Lifetouch for their employee’s behavior.
I just read this very distressing story about your company's policies and conduct, regarding your treatment of 13 year old Cancer patient, #BellaThurstonhttps://t.co/fPc260Wq3u
I suggest you do more than offer her a free picture. Shame on you.
— CJ McGuinness (@CJMcG56) August 28, 2018
— Kevin Meehan (@topschtick) August 29, 2018
@Lifetouch Why don't you have a pinned post apologizing for humiliating Bella Thurston, a 13-year-old fighting brain cancer that you refused to allow to wear a hat for her school picture. The hat covers her bald head. She lost her hair from chemo.
So, WTF? Where's your apology?
— John Avignone (@JohnAvignone) August 28, 2018
@Lifetouch I am curious where in your company policy it states that a kid battling #ChildhoodCancer cannot wear hat in their school photos? Please tell to me why a child was denied services yesterday, and humiliated in front of her middle school by your company? #accountability
— Heather Blanchard (@MuggleCancerMom) August 22, 2018
Watch United New International’s coverage of the story here.