5-Year-Old Cancer Patient Continues to Spread Joy With Princess Photos

Photo by Mother Hubbard Photography

Isabella Harvey’s adorable Disney princess-style photo shoot is a gift that keeps on giving. Right after social media lit up with the images of the 5-year-old leukemia patient posing with a costumed “Cinderella” who wore a bald cap to match the Harvey’s head, the girl wound up back in the hospital with a stomach infection. And now the fairy-tale moments are lifting her up all over again, mom Pina Harvey tells Yahoo Parenting.

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“She’s become a celebrity, with people coming up to her and calling her a real princess, Princess Isabella,” notes the Staten Island mother about the effect of the Nov. 22 photo shoot. “Nurses are like, ‘I saw you on Facebook!’ and it’s cheered her up so much. It’s such a good feeling to see her so happy.”

Photo: Mother Hubbard Photography

That wasn’t Isabella’s initial feeling last month, when the family had to rally her to participate in the photo shoot, just one day after she was released from a two-week hospital stay. “The ICU wasn’t a fun place to be, and she was emotional,” says Harvey of the session, coordinated by Gianna Nicole’s Heart of Hope foundation, for pediatric cancer patients at the Oakeside Bloomfield Culture Center. It was set in a Victorian mansion in Bloomfield, N.J. “She didn’t want to go, and I realized it was because she didn’t feel comfortable without her hat on,” Harvey adds.

Related: Dad’s Whimsical Photos of His Kids Will Make You Smile

Photo: Mother Hubbard Photography

Diagnosed with cancer at age 3, Isabella relapsed in September, and confided to mom that she wasn’t feeling like a princess without her hair. “As a mom, you tell your child they’re beautiful, but they’re not going to take you seriously because you’re their mom,” Harvey told Today.com. She reassured her oldest child (twin siblings Michael and Alyssa are 3, and brother Brandon is 1) that she could keep on her crocheted white hat as long as she’d like. But as soon as Isabella saw model Chelsea Knutson of Bella Princess, a company that sends costumed actors to kids’ parties, the child’s whole attitude changed. “Her face just lit up when she saw that Cinderella didn’t have hair either,” Harvey tells Yahoo Parenting. “You could see that she realized, ‘Hey, she looks like me, and she’s beautiful.’ That was big for her. It was such a comfort.”

The idea to have Knutson’s head bare like Isabella’s came from photographer Alana Hubbard. “We knew beforehand that Isabella was very self-conscious about losing her hair and would only wear a hat,” says the Mother Hubbard Photography artist. “We were so sad to hear that and wanted her to see how beautiful she was. So we decided to put the cap on the model to surprise Isabella.”

Mission accomplished. As soon as Knutson walked in to meet Isabella and pulled a fur hood off her head, the girl’s shy demeanor disappeared. “She instantly broke out in a huge grin and started laughing,” says Hubbard. “Everyone else started crying. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”

Photo: Mother Hubbard Photography

The backgrounds that Hubbard added afterward to the photos have special meaning for Isabella as well. “Her mom mentioned that they don’t get to travel because Isabella has been in the hospital so much, so I edited the pics to look like she’d been traveling to meet these princesses, to the beach, mountains, etc. I tried to make it look like she’d been all around the world.”

Photo: Mother Hubbard Photography

And now, in reality, the images bring Isabella to cloud nine every time she sees them. “We look at the photos all the time,” says Harvey. “Isabella has had such a hard three years; it’s just wonderful to have something positive like this come out of it.”

Photo: Mother Hubbard Photography