ALLENTOWN, Pa. - It started when she was around 2 years old.

Bella Figueroa of Allentown was experiencing frequent head and body pains that didn't seem quite right.

"I started getting really bad nosebleeds," Figueroa said. "Then it turned into bad headaches."

Her mom started to get concerned. Countless years were spent in and out of doctor's appointments.

It took until Bella was 12 years old to be properly diagnosed.

"Isabella has chiari malformation," said Milagros Cintron, Bella's mom. "That can cause a multitude of issues. Anything from neurological disorders, muscular disorders, sensory disorders."

It's a rare brain condition caused by structural defects in the base of the skull and cerebellum. Part of the cerebellum starts to press on the spinal cord, and makes it difficult for spinal fluid to flow correctly.

"I was a little scared because I really didn't know much, but it was a relief to know what's going on," Figueroa said.

In two weeks, Bella will undergo surgery to help with the spinal fluid.

"I'm very nervous for the surgery, but I know everything will go well," she said.

Once that's over, she's excited to get back to things she loves — like basketball, riding on rollercoasters and being a part of one of her favorite groups: the Allentown Police Athletic League.

It's a team of people who say they're supporting Bella every step of the way.

"Bella is someone who has not just touched people in the community as far as helping them out," said Allentown Police Chief Charles Roca. "Bella is someone who gives of herself day in and day out. We wanted to be there in her time of need."

Bella's mom says the Allentown Police Department has been the biggest contributor to a GoFundMe page that was set up for Bella and her family. As Bella heads into surgery, the community and the Allentown Police Department will be rooting for her through it all.

"We have the support of the community to help remind her that she's great," Cintron said. "I want her to know and other people who have chiari malformation, it's not a limitation."

Scroll down for comments if available

Recommended for you